Week three of the Iowa Startup Accelerator had us wrestling with the phrase:
You hear this a lot in the startup world. It’s also a phrase we’ve heard given as advice from successful women leaders who attribute the “done is better than perfect” philosophy as a turning point for them in overcoming struggles with perfectionism.
Another phrase that we kept hearing this week from the women we have been talking to this week is:
“Be your best self.”
Mothers have told us that they remind their daughters of this phrase to help them overcome their perfectionism tendencies. “Be your best self” sounds a lot better than being perfect, right? This trending Pinterest phrase seems more attainable, somehow when “perfect” isn’t in the mix.
But for the girl who is motivated by excellence, there really isn’t much of a difference. And anyone who is self-aware is likely to acknowledge that she can always do better. Which makes it pretty hard to decide when you are “done,” or when “good enough” really is good enough.
That was what we were muddling through this week. Our main focus was to get an offer test out – to put something out there for our target audience to see if they would respond to our solution and the way we describe it. We thought we could do that by Tuesday...it didn't happen until Thursday.
In reflecting back on the week, what he had remind ourselves was that learning something new takes time and there are some things you just can’t fully understand from reading alone. You just have to work through it.
In the spirit of sharing the journey as we promised, here’s what this week looked like:
We spent most of our day making our way through Justin Wilcox's FOCUS Framework section on offer testing. We wanted to understand it, though, not just treat it as a checklist to be done. So, it took most of our day and we didn’t quite make it all the way through. We felt good about the progress, and also wondered if we had really accomplished anything when we didn’t have a significant tangible outcome to show for it. The answer here is yes, but we’ll get to that.
Tuesday was a tough day for all of us. We felt like we were spinning our wheels. We completed the path to victory spreadsheet from FOCUS, which helped us to understand the various ways we can actually make money. It also had us questioning – are we focusing on the right things? The only thing we could think to do was take a break. For us that meant lunch at Sauce and treating ourselves to an awesome lemon blueberry cake. The heart wants what it wants.
Despite the break, our meeting that afternoon only served to keep our heads spinning a bit.
We offer a big shout out to the mentor who met with us that day and were part of helping us talk through where we were. Like great mentors often do, they didn’t give us answers but gave us the sounding board to talk through what was on our minds. There are times that the weight and responsibility of running business hits – and that was this day. Emoticon to describe how we left feeling on Tuesda :
Despite how Tuesday ended, we walked in feeling better on Wednesday. Another great mentor meeting helped us to simplify our offer test a bit and, we had a workshop with actress and teach Kristy Hartsgrove Mooers, who taught us some techniques for being able to be present. Guess what – a lot of it involved breathing. It was exactly what we needed that day.
We got that offer test out, even if it was later than we wanted. Learning and working with the a process that was new to us was frustrating. And we were struggling hard with the design. You know why? Because we knew we could do better. With each element we played with, with each photo we tried, we were spurred on by knowing that we were capable of more. Even in the minutes prior to posting we were playing with language that probably didn’t matter and finally cut ourselves off. Done is better than perfect.
It was exciting to see some of the results of our offer test. We also got feedback on it from mentors and peers that we are going to play with. There are just some things you don’t know until you put it out there. And you aren’t going to be able to get to “your best” without testing along the way. Our biggest take-aways were this:
- Ideas need time to incubate. Even when it feels like you are tangibly not making progress, your mind is working and those ideas need time and space to do their thing. We teach this; we just needed to remember it.
- We aren’t going to be awesome every week and we just have to go with it. Just as it is unrealistic to be perfect, it is equally unrealistic to “be your best self” all the time.
In our offer test this week we shared three things you can do to help with fear of failure and perfectionism. One of those things was to say “It’s okay to be kind to yourself.” We may have been writing exactly what we needed to hear this week, too.