Key to success: shoot first, apologize later

There are infinite analogies to describe work habits, but one resonates with me most: shoot first, apologize later.

The easiest thing to do with the task at hand is nothing. Sometimes, I’ll have a completed draft ready to turn in on any of our articles, guides, or pieces of content, but simply fail to submit. What’s the remedy? Just turn it in. Shoot first, apologize later.

You may feel overwhelmed. It may seem like there are so many hurdles to jump to get to the end goal, but alas…

The only hurdle is fear– fear of messing up in one of many ways. This mentality is rooted in “perfectionism”. While seemingly noble, it’s actually an inhibitor of learning and progress.

Don’t let the root word “perfect” in that ambiguous excuse deter you from understanding what it really is – fear of failure (often times of the most insignificant nature).

You’ll never learn if you never try. The more important theme is an opportunity lost is always a failure.

I’ve recognized this in my own work as an irrational fear of not getting something splendidly correct on the first pass through.

It’s so bad that I’ve come close to completely dropping the ball on an article here, an interview there. These things add up and the price to pay only increases with added responsibility.

Embedded in the seemingly harmless goal of wanting to do a project justice the first time around is a frame of mind capable of depleting your efficiency and impeding progress.

Lesson of the day: perfectionism is neither sustainable, nor a valid excuse.

Work and responsibility piles on itself and the only thing that can lessen the load is increased efficiency. Without efficiency, the stack of reports, list of emails, or daily “grind”, if you will, is insurmountable.

It’s simple – the more you can do in less time, the more you can fit into a day. I’ve heard legend of people having upwards 300 emails per day and each one a task to be done or followed up on. That’s right, not just the cold call emails that we’re all so *cough* fond of.

Do I know how this is done? Yes. Can I do it myself? Not yet…but here’s why I’m en route.

My biggest hang-up in work is, self-admittedly, taking action without oversight. When producing content, hardly does one generate a piece of gold from the first 20 minutes of writing.

The key to scalable success is iteration – many shots on goal and understanding the purpose of doing this. If you’re iterating, you’re learning and growing based off of the feedback of your more senior co-workers and mentors.

Remember, they want your success too, since that’s a win for them as well. You’re all playing for the same team.

I’ve rid myself of the “hero” mentality of getting a massive project done on the first try after a caffeine-fueled all-nighter.

This won’t work as you level up in your career. You may suddenly realize there have been weeks or even months to complete a task, but you’ve been so afraid of getting it wrong, that it’s no longer timely…your window has closed.

This is why you must shoot first and apologize later. Give it a go, and fix it if it’s wrong. You’ve got chance after chance to work on something until the due date rolls around.

The truth is: many micro-failures > dropped ball irrevocable fail.

Are you a “perfectionist”? How has that affected your work? Does it still work for you at scale? Let me know in the comment section below!




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