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How to Take Imperfect Action

29/03/2016 15:40 | Updated 29 March 2016

'Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction' Harry Truman

I am only human and by far not the least fallible either. A serial perfectionist, I can sometimes prolong, postpone and occasionally even fail to ever get things done. My recent book was no different; I worried at the content that decorated the pages day and night before finally getting near to a point of release. It seemed that every proof read discovered another grammatical error or typo. 'An oversight such as this would devastate my credibility', I whined at the editor. I was beginning to think that I would never get to a stage where I was happy to release it, despite a pre-sales list that needed satiating and a burning desire (pun intended) to spread my philosophy.

Allow me to deviate for a paragraph. I received a message from a man named Dan about funding a business venture. I get a fair few of these but particularly took to this young man. Due to personal commitments I'm not currently funding any such projects and let him know that despite this I would be delighted to have coffee and see if I can help in some other way. Oddly it seems that every time I make such a decision I tend to benefit as much or more than the person that I was intended to help.

So how do these verses collate? Well when sitting with Dan he mentioned that he lives by the saying 'take imperfect action'. I guess the truth is there will never be such a thing as 'perfect' action. Perfection is asymptotic by definition. There can, however, be no worse action than the absence of action itself. Following this brief and unrelated discussion. I went home and decided to take 'imperfect action'. I negotiated with myself one final proof before boldly sending 10,000 copies to print. The book has now been released and I have a large weight lifted from my shoulders. I can safely say that when I read back over the book now I am delighted with the final product. Just being able to hold it is fantastic.

Within two days of sending the book one careful reader reported diligently back to me that there was a typo in the first few pages. I smiled, realising that this was merely inconvenient and far from a career destroyer. Secretly I actually quite like the typo as it represents a testament to my imperfect action. Action is a word bandied around the personal development world left, right and centre and truth be told without action the world's greatest plans are impotent. Knowledge without application is not power but merely potential instead.

I have since coined the phrase CREACTION; An amalgamation of the words creative and action. The beauty lies in a blend of both having the insight to construct an idea or plan and then backing up with the action to see it through to the end.

Here are 3 steps to taking imperfect action:

1. Make concrete decisions (burn your boats): Know when setting out to take action that there is no other alternative than to continue forward with your current choice. It is said that when Alexander the Great arrived on the shores of Persia his army was greatly outnumbered. In response he ordered his men to burn their boats on the shore as they arrived. As their only means of retreat went up in flames, legend says that Alexander turned to his men and said, "We go home in Persian ships, or we die". Let there be no other option. I knew that there was no option than me ultimately releasing the book. It also helps to establish your purpose for this action, this saves trying to revaluate it later.

2. Set a non-negotiable deadline on your action (and stick to it): Some people thrive on pressure; others do anything to avoid it. Those that thrive may be working the night before their deadline to finish their project and those that avoid may create a strategic plan to avoid last minute fumblings. Fear not, I tend to deviate to the former and I'm still afloat. Making your deadline known or if possible even placing the power in someone else's hands can help massively. Accountability with the right person is priceless.

3. Don't try and plan for EVERY possible eventuality: Trust in your ability instead. Know that whatever should arise you can deal with it. The saying springs to mind 'A bird doesn't have faith in the branch to hold her; she has faith in her wings to lift her'. You have managed to stay alive up until now, know that you are able to deal with whatever should arise and push onwards.

Not sure when to begin with the above? Start now!

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