Winging it or work of art – the pesky spectrum of precision

”We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit”


In my book Lead Generation, which I published exactly two years ago, I included a chapter on Perfectionism. Essentially I shared that waiting for the website to be ‘just right’ or not publishing a video until we feel it is of Oscar quality holds us back, because really, what works commercially is just to get out there, and start having conversations.

Whilst I do believe there are some of us who use ‘getting it right’ as an excuse to delay the confronting bit of having sales conversations, I do believe that there are actually a bunch of people out there who simply have higher standards, and feel like they are compromising their work if they put it out there in a shabby way.

If you want to continually demonstrate excellence and mastery in your work, then go for it!

I am interchanging words like excellence, mastery, precision and perfectionism, but I am essentially referring to the act of a job ‘very well done’.

I have a wonderful friend who is all about excellence. She lives and breathes it, and likes things to be just right, whether it’s a book, a website, her home, an event or gift wrapping. Try telling her to ‘wing it’ or not submit her ‘best work’ and she would tell you where to go! Of course she is practical, there are times when she knows she needs to be on the non precision side of the spectrum but her natural way of being is excellence.

On the other hand, I am very happy just to get things out there and not worry too much about the finer detail. The video below is a case in point; there is a washing basket (and washing!) in the background, I am squinting badly and don’t exactly look camera ready. But this is my natural way of being; I am happy for people to see the washing baskets in my life!  In a way, I love the challenge of seeing what comes up without too much preparation. However, I also will be very well prepared when the occasion calls for it.

The thing that is similar with my friend and me, is that we both feel immense freedom in the way we work (and believe me it has taken something for me to get to this stage!). We don’t give much of a shit what people think; we are confident in the knowing that it is our 'real stuff' and that is has value. And we are also happy to take a risk. My excellence driven friend knows she won’t be pleasing everyone, and she is cool about that. I know for a fact that I get judged for my ‘muckiness’ at times, and most of the time don’t let that worry me.

When we continue to worry too much about what others think, I think that is what holds us back, not striving for perfection in the first place.

Carol Dweck refers to this as growth mindset vs fixed mindset. I love the idea of curiosity and exploration as the drivers for growth, and you can do that in a winging it kind of way or a work of art kind of way, whatever works for you!

I also think we have parts of our life where we are driven to excellence more so than others.

For example, with Transcendental Meditation, I am very clear that I am all about mastery. I have a very disciplined practice, and am constantly researching the literature which supports it (have just finished this fabulous book on the topic). There are others who have a more ‘wing it’ kind of approach to meditation, which is great; in this area I choose mastery.

It comes down to trusting yourself, and what feels right for you. In the past, I think I have come from a place where people who are vigilant in their need to constantly demonstrate excellence are somehow broken or constrained, and I don’t think I am alone in this. But who on earth am I to judge others, particularly if their only ‘crime’ is wanting to be the best?! Let's represent ourselves to others in a way that works for us, and the real us.

Have a think about where you sit on the spectrum, are you are ‘wing it’ or ‘work of art’ kind of person? And does that differ depending on what area of your world you are thinking about? Do what works for you, don’t base your ‘success’ on what other people think, and the world will be a better place for you sharing your stuff in your own unique way!   

Posted on November 22, 2016 .