by Brad Bollenbach

It’s entirely possible that the only thing standing between where you are now, and where you want to be can be summed up in one word: perfectionism.

You can’t publish your article yet; the title isn’t quite right.

You can’t give a talk about zero downtime deployments; you’re not even an expert on it.

You can’t release your code yet; it’s crap compared to DHH’s code!

The quest to be perfect is a quest to create nothing at all.

And here’s the thing: perfectionism isn’t. Even once you’re sure you’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed every t, you still can’t avoid the fact that some people – lots of people even – will think it’s junk. (Can you think of a single piece of software that isn’t the subject of seething rage by a vocal minority of non-doers?)

Thankfully, perfectionism doesn’t matter. Creating value is what matters.

If your screencast on refactoring ugly code saves me half a day of work, I’ll forgive the audio glitch between 5:20 and 6:14. If your article helped me figure out how to deploy my first Rails app, I don’t care that you misspelled “its” three times.

You’ve got something we want to see/know/buy/learn. I don’t want it to meet your definition of perfect; I just want it to meet my definition of done.

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by Brad Bollenbach

The first Ruby on Rails web development contract I ever got, with zero Rails experience whatsoever, was for $85/hour. To get it, I sent out 80 CVs in 2 weeks.

The consulting gig I’m doing right now? I applied for dozens of contracts over a period of months, including even getting flown out to Zappos in Las Vegas recently, going through eight hours of interviews with various engineering teams — and ultimately got rejected.

I’ve written 80,000 to 100,000 words and over 70 articles on this blog. Not a millionaire yet, apparently. Still going.

Not counting consulting, I’m on my third business idea. If 80% of businesses fail, I’m getting closer and closer to shifting the odds in my favour.

I liked 199 girls on Plenty of Tweeps, before finally meeting the girl I now live with, the girl I will almost certainly marry. And that’s not even counting the hundreds and hundreds of people I’ve met from social skydiving.

The Numbers Game

No matter how hard you try, you are only going to get a fraction of the results you expect. That may sound discouraging. After all, a five percent return on watching TV with your partner at night, complaining about everything that’s wrong with your job — about how your whole department is just fucked — will not grow into an asset you can retire on.

But a five percent return on hitting up literally every single opportunity you can think of — five percent of 1 Yes, in spite of 200 Noes — five percent of using every second you are not working for someone else to build something that just might allow you to work for yourself — that, in my experience at least, is a gamble worthy of your entire force.

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