ENEMY : Perfection

Katie Upton #2While reading John Maxwells 15 invaluable laws of growth, several concepts have piqued my interest and I intend on posting on these topics. The next one that I will be exploring is the perfection Gap. This is the 5 th reason Maxwell gives for people not growing. They may want to start but just can’t seem to get over several humps. This is one that I have struggled with. I don’t think of myself as a perfectionist but the Perfection Gap has certainly affected my growth process. Remember, I’m just a lowly machinist/ welder. What do I know? There are so many above me, what could I offer the world? All these questions have pledged me. It reminds me of a story an art teacher I had in College told me.
I was taking a drawing class at the Santa Barbara City College in the mid 90′s. Katie Upton is her name. Katieupton.com is her site, check her out. She is well known for huge, larger than life drawings and paintings of horses. She told us once about a time early in her career when she purchased a large sheet of paper. It was quite expensive. She went into great detail describing the beauty of the raw paper. It was very special, and probably difficult to acquire. Her tools were laid out ready for her to begin. She walked around the paper looking at it from all angles. She just couldn’t start. The fear of making a mistake and ruining this large investment was too much to bear. After a long time struggling with this invisible foe, she accidentally spilled her coffee all over the sheet! It was ruined. Or so she thought. Stunned, Katie just looked at the mess. Black coffee splattered over a pristine and enormous sheet of expensive paper. It was then that the perfection lost hold of her, and she begun.
I love this story for so many reasons. It depicts one of the artists most deceptive enemies, resistance. She overcame it. And another enemy, her perfectionism. She was so terrified of hurting this beautiful slate, her perfectionism held her captive. What an empowering thought, that when we get stuck, perhaps all we need is to make a mess so we can begin to clean it up. Much like the saying that you can only steer a moving ship. In my business, metal work, I have adopted the saying that “we can fix anything”. Meaning, lets just make some progress, move forward and from there, we can clean up any messes. 
When I purchased my mill for my new shop, Levi, my son and I trailered it all the way from Santa Clara. Once we got it to the shop, it had to be unloaded so we could return the rental trailer. We pulled up to the shop, rolled up the door, empty slate. Wide open shop space. Nothing was in the shop yet. I could unload the machine anywhere though I understood that where you place the heavy equipment dictates the flow of ,the shop. It’s a big decision. It’s not just where I install the machine, this decision I may regret for years, not to mention all the voices I heard of future employees asking why I the world would someone put the mill in this location….  Needless to say, the mill sat on the trailer for a while. I walked around, looked at the different views of the shop. Levi moaned ,”are we going home soon?”. THATS IT”, I said. We unloaded the mill, put it in the location it is now and went home. My new shop had begun.
As I lean into leadership training and personal growth, I am so thankful for knowing this concept. Just do it. Push through the resistance. It won’t be perfect but remember, you can’t steer a motionless ship. Go ahead and break it, spill coffee on it, you can fix anything.
What are you afraid of ruining or failing at? What if you just did it?