The Imperfect Time When Nothing Gets Sold

I’ve enjoyed watching snippets from the literary bonanza that is the Hay Festival this past week. An amazing 700 events in such a seemingly unusual place. Famed for “slick willie” Clinton’s description as “Woodstock for the mind”, albeit slightly lost on someone my age.

I was intrigued to hear a newly published author describe his fear of books. Understandable given that he is dyslexic. Yet he was motivated by listening to other authors talk. Their mantra that inspired him was simple;

don’t get it right, get it written

I loved this. It reminded me of a delightful phrase I was given recently from an article about Anne Lamott; Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor. Here’s the quote in fuller context:

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.


Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend. What people somehow (inadvertently, I’m sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here — and, by extension, what we’re supposed to be writing.

Truly fascinating. Not stepping out until you perceive perfection can be attained is indeed an evil foe.

And you can transpose just such an artistic creativity block onto our selling profession.

It is the destructive force behind many a stalled pitch, shunned presentation or lost sale opportunity in general.

I’m reminded further of two thoughts. First, how companies like 37signals disrupted the tired old software industry. They trailblazed launching something everyday. It couldn’t possibly ever be perfect, but customers will love motion and help along the journey as growth occurs.

Then I recall interview advice from college. When asked to name your faults – a common request from vacuous HR tick-lists – the one you were supposedly best coyly admitting to was, yes you’ve guessed it, being a bit of a perfectionist. Such rubbish.

Perhaps we can adapt the earlier mantra?

nothing gets sold, when your selling’s on hold

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