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The Wednesday Word: On Why Perfection Is A Waste Of Time, And Picking The Perfect Co-founder (Clue – You Can’t)

Welcome to the hump – apropos of that, here’s some advice!

What is perfection and how can anybody possibly achieve it? Let’s be honest, perfection exists outside the realms of our tiny minds, limited as they are by the subtle imperfections of everything we need to rely upon to make our modern lives possible.

Was your commute into work perfect today? Is your email inbox perfect, with every message answered and filed away in a perfectly labelled perfect folder you have created?

Really? Check again.

The founders who find themselves ‘perfect’ co-founders (or staff) aren’t bothered about perfection, they are bothered about success.

They do not want to achieve perfection, they just want to make something, usually a problem, better, more palatable, simpler to process.

Perfection takes forever – but sensible founders have an acute sense of the passing of time, and what, and how much of it they need to accomplish in order to achieve their goals.

And those goals aren’t rigid, but, within reason, adaptable.

Is it possible to build a product that is not ultimately intended for human consumption?

No. Is it possible to build a team that will follow your instructions unquestioningly and without protest or counter-argument?

No, and would you want there to be?

A poor founder takes a long time to make their mind up. A good founder knows instinctively that there will be times when they are dissatisfied with their co-founders efforts, but understands that, even so, they can’t, and it would be pointless anyway, to do everything on their own.

A poor founder undermines other’s confidence by interviewing them once, twice, five times. The interviewee thinks “what is causing this person to shilly-shally so much – what is wrong with me?”

A good founder isn’t an aesthete, concerned about everything being just so – a good founder wants to solve a problem and will probably enlist the help of anybody who expresses a willingness to contribute.

That is called leadership – not everyone possesses it, but most think that they do.

An old expression says “there’s the quick and the disappointed”. There’s another that says “fools rush in where angels fear to tread”.

Start-up founders are fools, not angels. They fight impossible odds, try to overcome insuperable problems, and wage unwinnable battles.

Heroes are also fools. Lovers are fools. Inventors are fools. Entrepreneurs are fools.

Life is about making a mess, and making a fool of yourself, and you can’t make a fool of yourself on your own.

You need somebody to stand and point and laugh at you and be late for a breakfast meeting and spill coffee on your term sheet and book the wrong hotel.

Because, as every wise start-up founder knows, there is no success without failure. There is no business without taking risks. There is no fun without interaction.

So get involved!

You will look silly. You will get tired. You will lose your sh*t. And no, your co-founder will not always be there to make things better.

But let’s shift the perspective. Because we’ve got the definition of perfect wrong. Perfect is not something we understand. Not even nature is perfect.

Perfection is whatever happens. Perfection is everything, and perfection is nothing. If you are thinking about perfection, you are wasting thought.

So go grab a co-founder by the hand – flick their ass with an elastic band. And when they retaliate by piercing your hand with a staple gun, thank them.

Because then you will really be living the dream. And somebody somewhere, sat in a dark room on their own, while their business crumbles around them, will shed a tear and think… “I still can’t make up my mind!”

Perfect is what perfect does.


You ain’t got time to perfect.


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