Why Perfect is Worth Nothing

MILLENNIAL ENTREPRENEURS: YOUR SUCCESS IS DETERMINED BY HOW WELL YOU UNLEARN THE OBSESSIVE PERFECTIONISM WE WERE TAUGHT IN SCHOOL AND LEARN TO TAKE SWIFT, MESSY ACTION EVEN WHEN IT SCARES THE SHIT OUT OF YOU.

Unpopular opinion: If you’re a millennial from the US you’re probably angry.

Angry about being lied to your entire life. 

About being told “Just work hard, get good grades, get into a good University, get a good job and have a good life.”

Our well-meaning parents, teachers and mentors promised us this outcome because that is what they experienced. 

Work hard. Follow the rules. Get all A’s. That’s it. Just follow the path and you’ll get everything you’re supposed to get in life.

Except that that’s complete bullshit. 

What actually happened?

Yeah, you busted your ass all through middle school to get into the honors classes in high school. 

Then in high school you took AP Classes to get a head start on college credits and somehow boost your GPA ABOVE the perfect 4.0. 

You ran around like a chicken with your head cut off doing extracurricular activities that would look good on your college applications. 

You woke up early. You went to bed late. You played sports. 

You did everything “right.” 

And then…you got into your dream university. It actually worked. You worked hard and then there you were reaping the benefits with that shiny new college bumper sticker and Facebook account (back when Facebook was only for university students, lol) 

Fast forward 4 years. You had the time of your life in college. You worked hard and got good grades, yes. But also you partied and let loose a bit which felt damn good after being stressed about getting into college starting at age 12. 

You sign your name on a dotted line a few times to cover tuition and meal plans etc. What is all this paperwork? You don’t know. You just know that you have to graduate from college cuz it’s part of THE PLAN. So, whatever it takes. Right?

Now it’s your graduation ceremony. You walk past the stage, gripping that diploma tight – smiling at the people in the audience who came out to support you – you’ve earned this. 

Okay now time for the final step in THE PLAN. Get a good job and start living the good life. You know how to do this. Just research every job you’re qualified for, create the perfect resume. Send out custom cover letters to every company, meet all the application deadlines. 

And…..now we wait. 

1 week: crickets

2 weeks: some rejection emails

3 weeks: 1 person replies! …saying you actually need 5 years experience for this entry level position fml

A letter comes in the mail. It’s from Sallie Mae, whatever that is. You open it and it’s more zeros than you’ve ever seen next to a dollar sign in your life.

Except, this isn’t a check. Nope. It’s what you owe. You know, for those 4 years of learning and partying you just had? That will be $200,000 please and your monthly payment of $800 for the next 5 years starts next month! Hopefully you have a job, right?

Oh you don’t have a job yet? Why not? Didn’t you do everything right? Didn’t you get good grades in school? Do all the extracurricular? Go to a good college? Yes? 

SOooooo what, then?

OH IT’S 2009 AND IT’S THE WORST RECESSION THE US HAS SEEN IN NEARLY 100 YEARS AND THERE’S NO JOBS FOR INEXPERIENCED LITTLE BABY COLLEGE GRADS LIKE YOU.

There’s an unpaid internship though. Actually it will cost you $12/week cuz you never get reimbursed for those coffees for your boss. But you’ll get experience! So that in 5 years you can get that entry level job. What do you need money for anyway? You’re not married. You don’t have kids. 

Well this sucks. 

GUESS WHAT?!?!

Everything we were taught about “THE PLAN” as millennials no longer applies leading a successful life in 2019 and beyond. 

NOT ONLY IS THERE IS NO “A” FOR EFFORT, BUT ACTUALLY GRADES DON’T MATTER FOR ANYTHING IN LIFE EXCEPT TO GET ACCEPTED TO UNIVERSITY. 

None of what we learned about “working hard, getting good grades and going to a good college” will get you anywhere in today’s world. Sure, maybe you have a good work ethic. But the world isn’t structured the way it used to be.

The people who are succeeding are the ones taking action. The ones putting themselves out there before they are ready. The ones who get results. 

For the “honors millennials” who spend their time in the real world getting things perfect before you “turn them in” – you’ll never get anywhere. 

This is the MOST TRUE in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is about one thing and that is leveraging your assets to minimize risk and maximize profit. The only way to do that is to take action. To get things in front of clients. To start marketing before your ready. To collect data, realize you screwed up and then pivot. To take risks. To fail over and over and over again. 

The millennial who does all those things is on vacation in the Maldives right now with 10 bajillion dollars in the bank. While you’re over here perfecting your business plan for the 10th time and wondering how you’ll make your student loan payment this month (still paying down capitalized interest, btw)

The way we learned to succeed in school harms us in the real world. Entrepreneurs are never rewarded for perfection. It only harms us because it slows us up. 

Your success will be determined by how well you can unlearn the programs of perfectionism and learn to take swift, messy action even when it scares the shit out of you. 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as the newest round of women inside SBE, my business mentorship program, go through the modules and content we’ve created for them to learn the best way to build a successful business around a personal brand. 

I see so many people get stuck when they take courses on entrepreneurship. The curriculum has to be presented in a linear way so that there is some kind of order to the chaos, but the reality is entrepreneurship is all over the place and not linear. If you wait til you finish all the content in module one and tie a perfect little bow on it you’ll have run out of time to take action and actually get clients and make money. 

As millennials it can be SO TEMPTING to approach business the way we were taught to approach school – dot all our i’s and cross all our t’s – but this does not help you and actually it HARMS you because it takes so damn long. 

Reprogramming perfectionism is one of the hardest things you’ll do – it’s a lifelong journey. And it is oftentimes the NUMBER ONE thing standing in the way of your success. 

Perfect is worth nothing. 

What’s worth something is more time and freedom to live your live, travel, spend time with family and relax. 

And those results come from DOING. Not preparing. Not being perfect. 

Make YOUR OWN plan. Get out there. Take action. DO SOMETHING WAY BEFORE IT’S PERFECT OR DONE. Get feedback. Implement. Seek out support as a recovering perfectionist. You are not alone and I’m in your corner supporting you all the way. 

Here is your new mantra: Good Enough.

Xo – Mel

ps If I hit a nerve with the perfectionism thing and you’re an entrepreneur building your business around your personal brand then you might just be ready for SBE. Click here to check it out – but DON’T spend forever reviewing the deets and then not take action to apply 😉

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