Terrified of releasing your imperfect work? Here's why you should!

May 01, 2024

For the last ten years, I've been a staunch believer in the mantra ‘better done than perfect’. This simple phrase constantly reminds me that taking imperfect action is always better than no action at all. Before that, my mantra was 'do it well or don’t do it all’. The shift in thinking was a complete game-changer for me, and it could be for you, too. Whether it's launching a project, writing a report, preparing a presentation, or taking the bold move to apply for that more senior role, the key is to just get on and do it. 'Done' beats 'perfect' every time. In this blog, I want to show why embracing imperfection is crucial for anyone looking to advance their career. 

Unlocking Opportunities by Letting Go of Perfection

Let me put this straight: The fear of releasing imperfect work could be holding you back from seizing opportunities. I know this suggestion might challenge everything you’ve been taught—maintain high standards, always do your best, and see things through to the end. Yet, here I am advocating for the value of imperfection. My observation, particularly among many ambitious women, is that a fixation on perfection can halt progress. It often morphs into a form of procrastination. We convince ourselves everything must be perfect before moving forward, but in reality, this mindset may just be a shield against potential failure or judgment. There’s a clear distinction between high achievement and perfectionism. High achievers can be satisfied with excellence, even if it falls short of their ultimate goals. Perfectionists, however, see anything less than flawless as a failure. Embracing ‘better done than perfect’ can help you break through these fears, enabling you to act boldly and confidently.

Jane's Shift: A CEO's Lesson on Embracing the 80% Rule

In my book, Woman of Influence, I dive into a really inspiring chat with Jane Huxley, CEO of Are Media, who's not just a dynamic leader but also downright honest and funny. You might recall her from the "It's Not Personal" episode on my podcast—it’s definitely worth a listen. Jane was at a major turning point in her career, stepping up to senior leadership while also juggling the chaos of young kids at home. One morning, she hit a wall, exhausted by the constant guilt and the impossible pressure to be perfect in every role she played. That day, something clicked for Jane. She decided to cut herself some slack, humorously accepting that she was "a little bit shit at everything".

This new outlook brought her an unexpected sense of calm and a new rule to live by: the 80% rule. Embracing this new rule wasn’t just about stress relief; it fundamentally changed how she approached everything in her life. Letting go of the need for perfection not only brought Jane peace but also propelled her career forward. She moved up to become a senior leader at Microsoft and later took on the role of a CEO on the international stage. Her journey shows how letting go of the idea that everything must be perfect can actually set you free, opening up incredible opportunities.

How Imperfection Can Fast-Track Your Career

Remember, aiming for perfection can really hold you back. It’s all about the 80% rule—getting things done is better than getting them perfect. Dan Sullivan, a strategic coach, puts it well: "Eighty percent gets results, while 100 percent is still thinking about it". By focusing on completion rather than perfection, you open doors to progress and high performance without the constant fear of falling short. Embracing progress over perfection isn't just about feeling better—it's about being more productive and proactive in your career. This shift challenges old habits and thought patterns, replacing them with a strategy that can propel you forward. If you find yourself stuck trying to make everything perfect, try breaking it down. Aim for 80% completion and see how much more you can accomplish. This isn't about lowering standards; it's about redefining success in a way that encourages action and celebrates real progress.


I hope you embrace the concept that "done" triumphs over "perfect" on the path toward career success. By shedding the shackles of perfectionism and embracing imperfection, we allow space for opportunity and growth. Jane Huxley's ‘aha’ moment underscores the transformative power of the '80% rule,' where prioritising completion over perfection leads to newfound clarity and success. Let's redefine success not as flawless execution, but as courageous action and tangible progress. Aim for 80%, ignite your potential, and achieve your goals.


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