The Secret to Success

I am, for most intents and purposes, your quintessential Type A personality.  I can be controlling, I always want to be right, and I strive for perfection in everything that I do.  These tendencies impact every area of my life, and I’m often forced to choose between putting out a product that doesn’t meet my ridiculously high standards or putting off the deadline and devoting untold hours to a single piece (i.e. this blog post).  When I was younger, I would push myself harder and faster and usually succeeded in being the biggest fish in a small pond, but as I got older, it quickly became apparent that a) I was never going to be the biggest fish in my pond-turned-lake-turned-ocean of competitors and b) that even being the best at something didn’t guarantee either my success or my happiness.  After years of struggling to ‘be the best’ I was struck with an epiphany in my late 20’s:

Perfection ≠ Success

Just because a product, a song, a book, or a person is perfect, does not mean that it/he/she will be successful.  People aren’t looking for the most perfectly made computer, or the most insanely competent personal assistant; what they want is something that meets their needs, something that they’re compatible with, and something that they can grow with.  People are willing to select an inferior product (or person) if they find things about it that they love, and they will overlook a superior product/person in a heartbeat if they cannot find a connection.

It’s so much more important to get your product (or yourself) out into the hands of potential buyers and employers than it is to shelve it for years trying to get it ‘just right’.  That need to be perfect is a reflection of a fear of failure inside you, and if you can find it within yourself to let go and allow forces beyond your control to take over, you will find that a lot less time will be wasted, and the results will ultimately lead you to success.  Getting immediate feedback and generating buzz around your product will do more to improve it than your perspective alone could anyhow, and if your product (or you) doesn’t work, then you can go back to the drawing board and start on a new approach before wasting all that time on something that was never going to succeed in the first place.

Courtesy of Flickr User @LyndaSanchez

Courtesy of Flickr User @LyndaSanchez

In the end, success is about trust, confidence, and tenacity.  If you can trust in the universe, show confidence in yourself and your product, and stand behind your ideas with a fierce tenacity – you will realize your vision and achieve success.

Of course, my experience isn’t universal.  What are your suggestions for success?