Lokism: Progress, not Perfection

Many of us strive for perfection, seeking to become not only the best, but absolutely flawless at what we are practicing.  It doesn’t matter what the particular skill is either; it can be fencing, accounting, sales, even “zone defense” (the Walmartism for facing, fronting, and making sure all product is in its expected place).  The trouble with perfection is that it rarely comes, and the psychology of the human mind not only contributes to this issue, it is likely to cause more problems by discouraging you from continuing to practice.  This is the irony of the human condition: we strive for perfection, but when we miss it once, we are less likely to achieve it later. This is due to the levels of dopamine and cortisol, the pleasure and stress hormones, respectively, that are released into our system when we experience success and failure.  An oversimplification, of course, and there are more chemicals involved, but those are the two biggest ones.

Overcoming 350 million year old biology isn’t easy, but it is necessary; you won’t accomplish anything if you let self-doubt get in the way.  Self-doubt is the killer of futures and ambition; it walks in with the dedicated mission of making you decide not to take a risk. The risk might not even be all that great–it may be no more than a possible embarrassment, or more likely, feeling embarrassed over what was done, despite no one else thinking of it as embarrassing.  This is why so many would-be content creators never get their start–they doubt their ability to create the content they want to make, thus never make any content.

In fact, this is something I grappled with for a long time.  Still do, on a daily basis, and I push out YouTube content seven days a week along with producing this weekly blog, occasional short stories (which are going to become less occasional), and a bloody published book that I pulled from circulation and am republishing. This is due to the fear that the content we create, whether video, written, drawn, sung, carved, or otherwise created will not only be inadequate, but ridiculed.  We hate the idea that what we think is worth saying isn’t worth listening to, largely because as a species, we are somewhat selfish and want to be seen as an expert in something.  I mean look at me, I’m sitting behind a computer and typing a combination of motivational and psychological information pulled together from different sources, and I’m far from a traditional “expert”.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what your first piece of content looks or sounds like; you will look at even the most polished piece you do now in ten years and reflect on how much you learned from it.  Your first video, blog, book, article, webinar, will be garbage compared to what you do in ten years. Even if you’re making high-quality content now, it will pale in comparison to what you make in ten years; because making content is like a skill in a video game; the more you grind it out, the more you use it, the better the skill gets.  Even in those games that don’t have hard core skill systems; World of Warcraft dumped most of its skill systems, but the mechanics of the bosses, your rotation, strategic use of cooldowns, are all skills.  Creating content is no different. The important part is that you strive for progress, and not for perfection. Perfection only comes after years of hard work; so get out there and start doing the work.  Today.  Now. You will not develop the skill you want, or make the money you want, or build the business you want, if you just keep thinking about it.  Put actions to your words, and start making progress.

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