"Life is not about success or failure, it's about stretching yourself. How will you ever know your limits until you've tested them? And how do you test them unless you're willing to fail brilliantly?"
I’ve always had the same dream — to use business as a force for good. But I had this terrible, debilitating flaw…
I used to chronically over-think, over-strategize, and wait for the "right time"... to write that post, make that habit change, launch that business... I wouldn’t want to release my "great idea” until it was shiny, flawless… perfect.
Many times, perfection would never actually come, and my great idea would sit on the back burner or in the back of my head, never to see the light of day. To my surprise, I’d wonder why I was no closer to my goals as the world passed me by as I strategized endlessly on the big things that were to come.
Does this sound at all familiar?
It wasn’t until some incredible mentors helped me see what a fatal flaw perfectionism procrastination can be. Progress rarely can be achieved through perfection. And perfect can easily become the enemy of better. They suggested simply taking action, no matter what, towards my goals.
My mentors’ solution was simple — take Imperfect Action.
What? No magic formula? It seems too simple to be true. And in a way, it is… but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Think of the Eleanor Roosevelt saying, “Do something every day that scares you.” She might have gotten this concept right all along. Generally, those things that scare you might actually be those things you need to overcome to empower your next wave of growth. And if forced to confront something that scares you daily, surely you can’t be fully ready for what all those actions might be… you simply must act and react!
Failure is a common and necessary result of Imperfect Action.
Yet so many people are prone to delaying acting on things that are important to us, because we fear the failure and negative emotions that inevitably await on the other end. One study even found that the intensity of emotion of gaining $500 is equal to that of losing $100! In essence — our physiology suggest that it hurts 5X more to fail than it does to succeed.
Without taking imperfect action, we constantly lose time perfecting our approach, our products, and may be drifting further away from something the market might actually want. How else can you grow (yourself, your brand) than by embracing an Imperfect Action mentality. Yet if you’ve never actually tried to do something, why on earth would you expect yourself to be good at it? This is a fallacy we fall into as human beings all the time.
Ask yourself which feels worse — the sting of a small failure from an imperfect action (coupled with a great data point, necessary lesson, or product revision idea), or not progressing at all?
Or perhaps, the worst outcome— what of the amount of time and expectation it might take to “perfect” an approach without action, which could be wasted in one monumental flop that might give failure a truly crippling sting for a budding entrepreneur.
Since learning to trust in the process of imperfect action, my actions have resulted in faster iterations of innovation, faster learning, and greater effectiveness in serving the incredible entrepreneurs with whom we share our dreams to use business as a driving force for good.
We share the same insights with them as we will with you. Even if your idea isn't fully fleshed out, your product isn't perfect, or the activity feels uncomfortable:
What imperfect action can you take today, right now, that will give you the feedback you need most and propels you towards your goals?
Most of all, are you prepared to fail brilliantly and take imperfect action to rapidly grow and scale your start-up? It might just be the key recipe to achieving the future success you know is possible.
Morgan Keim is CEO of Sprouted Ventures, a boutique marketing group focused on driving go-to-market strategy and execution that can grow sales revenues by over 80%+ y/y for emerging food-tech brands. He has 10-years experience developing and implementing game-changing marketing strategies and campaigns for Impossible Foods, Ginkgo Bioworks, Natierra Superfoods, Whole Foods, HBO (Game of Thrones), Honda, Acura, Cisco Systems and BlackBerry.