Done is better than perfect.

Whether you first heard it from Sheryl Sandberg in “Lean In” or the dozens of business development and self-care sites that quickly memed it up, the phrase “Done is better than perfect” is ubiquitous.

Some people and nonprofits look at this as a cop out. Because if you REALLY CARED, you would get everything perfect and it would be one hundred percent obvious to everyone who engages with your content that It. Is. Perfect.

Not true.

We continue to use this encouraging advice with our clients and in presentations — and likely always will. Here’s why:

Perfect focuses on the wrong things. Your excellent graphics and excellent production quality will never mask the fact that your content is poor. On the other hand, a shaky handheld video and quick type treatment are good enough when your material is on brand and delivers the goods (raises funds, engages constituents, energizes donors).

Perfect is invisible. We never advocate shoddy work that isn’t born of sound strategy. Obviously. But to consistently put off the launch of the campaign, the newsletter or the blog post because it doesn’t fit some arbitrary ideal only accomplishes one thing. It removes you from the conversation — removes you from your constituents’ radar and allows other, more enterprising groups to capture their attention.

Perfect doesn’t exist. Your audience doesn’t know that your Plan A didn’t come to fruition and you had to go with Plan B. They don’t know — or care — that your entire team isn’t in love with the header art you went with on that email. They don’t care. Those things aren’t their main concern and they shouldn’t be yours either. They want to know their contributions are fueling your work … and how they can continue to help you. That’s all. 

Focusing on perfect is a great way to stall. It’s an excellent way to avoid making decisions and moving forward. Ultimately, it’s a great way to look very busy and accomplish very little.

Get your content out there. Improve it consistently based upon what you learn.

But absolutely get perfect out of your head.

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