Most of us have things that get in the way of excellent work.
I know that I do.
The last few months haven’t been the best for my businesses. I took spent some time reflecting while on a vacation with family last week, and I uncovered a few of the toughest obstacles standing between me and producing incredible work.
Do you share any of these with me?
1. Faking it.
There are about a trillion and one articles out there that dive into the idea of “fake it til you make it.”
The general idea is that if you convince yourself that you’re enough, then you’ll eventually become enough.
Want to eventually be the top salesperson at your company? Then act like the top salesperson now. By embodying the habits and mindsets of the top performers, the goal is that we become a legitimate top performer quicker.
If that approach works for you, then keep on keeping on. But this approach doesn’t work with me.
I’ve over-promised and under-delivered in the name of the “fake it til you make it” philosophy. It’s worked on occasion, I suppose, but I’m not quite sure what success really looks like when someone is faking it.
Clients and customers don’t often enjoy when I’ve faked things.
As much as I despise admitting it, I know that I’ve ruined a handful of relationships and several handfuls of deals because I couldn’t deliver on what I promised. I regret those mistakes.
Faking it and not making it isn’t simply failure. It’s deception. You could be deceiving your customers, your clients, your bosses, and your investors.
Hell, you could be deceiving yourself.
It’s not worth it for me.
I’ve been nurtured in the school of “move fast and break things.”
That philosophy pervades the startup world that I live inside. It’s a world of creating the simplest versions of something and getting it to market (we call this our Minimum Viable Products and Validating the Market, respectively).
It’s a world where we’re all quietly–or not so quietly–on a quest to make a $1,000,000 by 30 while wearing a hoodie.
Yes, these are gross generalizations. But they’re not wholly inaccurate.
I know because I’m a follower and practitioner of these principals. I’m steeped in these approaches to the world. I drink, make, and sell the Kool Aid. Most of my entrepreneur friends carry a similar set of beliefs. We talk about this over Kool Aid.
But there’s personal downside to these approaches: I can become unbelievably and harmfully impatient.
For whatever reason, I sometimes convince myself that I need to “get mine” by thirty. Worse, I often feel like a failure because I’m not incredibly “successful” right now. Thinking that way can send me to a somber place.
Inevitably, the quality of my work suffers.
Do you see the irony with this?
So because I’m upset about not being incredibly successful right now, it negatively affects the work I need to do now in order to reach that level of success.
I’ve got to be patient. I’ve got to put in the work. I’ve got to enjoy it along the way.
3. Pure laziness.
Two weeks ago, I made the conscientious decision to get drunk by myself and watch a few episodes of a shitty show on Netflix. It was a Wednesday evening.
That’s not the type of behavior that will get me to where I want to go in life.
And here’s the worst part about it: I stressed for most of the night because I knew I wasn’t doing the type of work that would make my clients and friends happy.
The night ended with me sitting in front of my computer upset and trying to sober up. I opened some projects, realized I wasn’t sharp enough to crush them, and opted instead for another drink.
I couldn’t even enjoy my shitty show! What a shit show.
My laziness doesn’t always take that form. Sometimes it looks productive. My procrastination may look like opening a book, watching a documentary, or working out.
The result is the same: poor results for my businesses.
I’m not saying that I think I should be working 24/7. I personally enjoy tipsy Netflix nights.
What I’m saying is that I owe my clients and customers and everyone else an extremely high quality of work.
That’s what I promised them.
Really, it’s what we should promise ourselves.
Would you like to help us shatter stereotypes about men?
Receive stories from The Good Men Project, delivered to your inbox daily or weekly.
Photo: Flickr/Sander Muller