Day One: Buzzer Management, or rather, the Battle Against Perfection

A few things to know about me. I’m constantly in search of new stories, new information, and the best iced coffee around. Far too many of my stories start out, “I was listening to a podcast and…” or “I read this book that…”

So don’t be surprised when it happens. Like now.

On His New Podcast…

On his new podcast, Akimbo, Seth Godin talks about ‘Buzzer Management” which he described in a blog post as,

You need to press the buzzer before you know the answer.

As soon as you realize that you probably will be able to identify the answer by the time you’re asked, buzz. Between the time you buzz and the time you’re supposed to speak, the answer will come to you. And if it doesn’t, the penalty for being wrong is small compared to the opportunity to get it right.

Buzzing in

This idea hit me hard the first time I heard it, and it continues to resonate every time. When I recently taught my social media strategy course with more than 100 amazing women entrepreneurs in it, it surprised me how many people are afraid to move forward for fear of not being perfect.

It’s easy to forget we don’t have to be perfect. One of the best compliments I received while teaching those talented and amazing women, was when one said, “I love how real you are.”

At the time I remember feeling like a hot mess from trying to teach my first live class while my puppy had decided to do acrobatics (badly) on the couch behind me. I was creating and teaching the class at the same time, while also taking on a new client. I was exhausted and over-caffeinated, and a little overwhelmed. And yet, there’s only so much you can do. The clock says go, so you go. You rescue the puppy from where he got stuck in the cushions behind you, and you keep on going.

Because that’s how life is.

In the midst of my feeling like chaos and frustratingly amateurish, this person saw real and authentic. Even though I’ve been teaching on and off at National University for years, this was MY first course. If I had not given myself a point of accountability to actually start, I might have kept on practicing and might not have actually buzzed in to teach.

It’s All Around Us

And yet, this is a consistent theme, the idea that we have to keep practicing, editing, and perfecting until there’s nothing more to improve. And at that point, we’ve become boring (oh please no!), and someone others can’t relate to.

Yesterday, my Chinese Medicine specialist said, “I used to think that if I was a better doctor, people would line up to see me. I worked so hard towards perfection, that in the meantime, others came along and published ideas not nearly as complex while I was still trying to become perfect.”

Why do we do this? Why are we so driven towards perfection that we allow it to hold us back?

Slaying the Resistance

In his book, the War of Art, Steven Pressfield calls it “Resistance”. He says, “Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

In reading his book (and many others like it), it becomes fascinating how our minds work. What keeps us from doing the things we really want to do comes in that giant form of Resistance, and keeps us from just buzzing in.

By the way, the last line of Seth’s blog post is my favorite, “The act of buzzing leads to leaping, and leaping leads to great work. Not the other way around.”

What’s holding you back from leaping towards great work?

Take the first step and buzz in.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact it’s more fun when it’s not.

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Founder at Fueled Marketing
Marketing strategist and founder of Fueled Marketing. More than 20 years marketing experience in B2B and higher education marketing. Storyteller, explorer, outrigger canoe paddler, and dog-beach regular.
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