This week I was struggling to write. I had literally been thinking about it all week and still had no words down. I gave myself a deadline; Sunday morning with a coffee, I will sit down and write – something. Anything.
Sunday morning rolled around and I was still not sure what I was going to write about. As I was leaving the house, I noticed one of the quotes on the wall. It’s part of a collection of about 30 various quotes we wrote down on blank canvases to display on our walls in the office and at home.
“Strive for progress, not perfection.”
It reminded me to take another small step. Instead of aiming to write the perfect post, just sit down and write a post, and then take it from there.
At the time, we were in the “fix the business” period.
We wrote this down when we first owned the Silverspoon, and it has been with us on various walls for about 7 years.
We had just taken over a restaurant that was about to shut its doors, and we knew we needed to make a number of changes to survive. The problem was that once we were in the thick of it, it became hard to see the forest from the trees.
I would agonize over all the decisions needed to turn the business around. Obsessing over making the “right” one (as if there was only one way to do things). Weighing up all the different options, so much so, that it would almost paralyze us from doing anything. There were many times during our ownership where we felt we were making it up.
This quote helped us push through and find the confidence to make decisions and then back those decisions. Ultimately, what pushed us through is that we took action; we did something. It was like a self-fulfilling prophecy. As soon as we took the pressure off ourselves to make a perfect decision, we felt more freedom to try things out.
To be clear, we still had a clear understanding of where we wanted to take the business:
- At first it was pretty simply; we wanted to own a restaurant.
- Then, once we owned the restaurant, it was all about fixing it.
- After that, we wanted to stop the restaurant revolving around us.
- Finally, we set about the plan to sell the restaurant.
The decisions and subsequent actions weren’t always right. Often it took us multiple attempts at something before we found what worked. As we tried things out, we found what worked and what didn’t. As we learnt what worked, we got better at making other decisions.
Our journey at the Silverspoon wasn’t 4 big leaps, but 4000 little steps.
This was the screen saver I had on my computer at the restaurant.
In the times where I felt like I was going around in circles, this picture gave me comfort that it was part of the process. It reminded me that it’s not how you start things that matters, but how you finish.
Just to be clear, striving for progress instead of perfection is not a free pass to do things carelessly or produce average results. One of our mottos at the Silverspoon was “Serving Excellence,” and we took it further by listing actions that demonstrated this.
We set a standard of excellence whilst being forgiving enough on ourselves to step up and give it as many shots as it takes to learn. We acknowledged that sometimes the only way to learn how to do something well was by doing it. The first time you do it, it probably won’t be perfect.
Seeing that quote this morning made me think.
How many things have I put off actioning because I have been looking for the perfect way? Setting such a high standard, I am doomed to fail right from the beginning. It reminded me about the many times I have spent more time and mental energy thinking about something instead of taking another little step.
I am glad I saw that quote on the wall this morning. It gave me the boost I needed to sit down and write this.
What are you procrastinating while waiting for everything to be perfect?
How can you change the “goal” to get yourself going?
Comment below with a small, 5-minute task that you can take today to build momentum.