I have a brother who loves photography. He takes good photos, but for some reason, he does not post them online. When I ask him the reason for not posting, he says that they are not good enough. For me, his photos are worth posting online. I do not understand what’s stopping him from showing his work.
Even though he denies it, my brother is a perfectionist—like most artists I know. Google defines a perfectionist as “a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection.” I have a different definition. For me, a perfectionist is someone who wants to succeed without experiencing failure.
I can never understand why people strive for perfectionism. For me, perfectionism is a “success-killer”. In this article, I am going to explain exactly why I think so.
Why Showing Your Work is Important
I recently read a book called “Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon. The book had a big impact on the work that I do. The author says that you don’t have to be a genius to succeed. Instead, it would be best if you focused on making contributions.
Your job is to focus on the process, not just the result. While doing that, it is important to show your influences and struggles because it shows a unique bond with your audience. The author says,
“Human beings want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them. The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work, and how people feel and what they understand about your work affects how they value it.”
Focus on documenting your life. It would be best if you took your work as documentation of every struggle and achievement of your life. That way, you learn to become better at what you do.
It is important to share your work. Sharing does not mean only the things that you do but also the things that you know. When you become a teacher, you don’t subtract knowledge. Instead, you add to it. When you teach something to someone, they will be grateful for your work and appreciate you more. However, the process should be mutual. It is your job to respect others’ work as well.
Having people that appreciate you and your work will help you find your tribe. A good example of this is creating an email list. If you have people subscribed to your work, it means they appreciate the work you do. Now, it is your job to add value to their lives.
Quantity Over Quality
In creative work, your job is to create. Especially when you are starting, focus on creating more and more valuable work. Do not focus on the outcome. If you start counting your views, earnings, and engagements, you will never be able to create good work. You cannot have a big audience from the very beginning. Ask any successful blogger, YouTuber, or artist. All of their views, subscriptions and earnings are the outcome of hard work and consistency.
Focus on quantity and forget the quality. If you are a writer, write 100 articles. If you are a YouTuber, make 50 videos. The same goes for artists, photographers, musicians, and other creative workers. The first thing to do is to create a bunch of content and share them. Then, listen and listen attentively. Appreciate the good and learn from the bad.
But isn’t quality important too?
It is. The best way to succeed is to create a balance between quality and quantity. But in the beginning, quantity is what matters the most.
Why is Quantity Important?
- You will learn better. Who do you think can write good articles—someone who has written 10 articles or someone who has written 100 articles?
- You will know what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. When you share your work, people are going to react to it. Watch their reactions and listen to their feedback. It is going to help you improve your work.
- More people will recognize your work. You will be able to reach more people by creating more work. Your views, likes, subscriptions, engagements, and earnings will grow.
- There will be more opportunities for you. More reach equals more opportunities. You can even find your dream job by showing your work. As Austin says in his book,
“If you just focus on getting really good, people will come to you.”
- Your work can go viral. Although “going viral” should not be your end goal, you never know what can happen. With growing social media engagements, anything is possible. On platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, and LinkedIn, it is not that difficult to go viral.
Learning is a major part of creating and sharing your work. When I started my blog, I honestly had zero knowledge about writing articles. My grammar was not good, and I did not know how to structure my articles. But that did not stop me from writing and creating more content online.
I continued writing because I enjoyed the process. I did not hesitate to share my work online. As I continued the process, my writing got better and better. I started learning more—not just about writing but also about building a website, designing, and digital marketing. With each content I post online, I learn something new. Today, after a year of blogging and writing almost 100 articles, my skills have improved greatly. Further, my views and engagements have also grown.
Learning does not just represent “improving skills”. It also includes the external aspects like how people react to your work, what they like/dislike, and how to create content that adds value to the people.
Failure and Success
Success means different for all of us. But we all know one thing—success is the result of hard work. It happens when you are consistent with what you do. We also know that failure is a part of success. When you fail, you have two options—try again or quit. If you choose the first option, you learn something from failure and try again. This cycle repeats until you succeed or quit forever.
As I said earlier, a perfectionist is someone who wants to succeed without experiencing failure first. It is not impossible, but it is also not easy. Every successful person has failed in his or her life before achieving success. Their failures taught them to try again better and never give up. Whenever I think about success and failure, I always think of J.K. Rowling. Twelve publishers rejected her work, and yet she did not give up. Today, she’s worth millions (maybe even billions).
Don’t strive for perfectionism. It could be killing your dreams and opportunities. You have to show your work and keep learning. There will be good and bad things. You have to appreciate the good and learn from the bad. Keep doing what you love doing. Keep creating more work and share them with others. You never know; a single piece of work can change your life forever.