“What is your greatest weakness?”
Have you been asked this question during interviews? I have. It’s a tough question to answer.
Some people recommend answering this question with “perfectionism”, as it sounds like a strength as well as a weakness. But perfectionism that stops you from achieving your goals is much more of a weakness than a strength. Perfection is an ideal, and if you’re always waiting for your work to be perfect, you will constantly be spinning your wheels, as ideals by their definition are impossible to meet.
It took psychotherapist Dr. Robert Glover six years to write his book No More Mr. Nice Guy. He found himself stuck in a constant cycle of adding, revising, and removing information. Eventually he realized that worrying about creating a polished “publishable work” was keeping him from creating anything at all. Only by changing his perspective was he able to finish his book. He had this to say about his change of perspective:
“I realized that I had gotten away from my original goal — to write a few insights that would help a few men live better lives. Once I let go of the burden of having to get published, be a best-selling author, and appear on Oprah, everything changed. I went back to my original agenda. From then on when I wrote, I only asked myself one thing: “Will this help my clients find answers to their problems?” I also kept reminding myself that my clients would never get a chance to benefit from my insight if I never finished the book.”
I’ll be the first to admit that I have the same issue as Dr. Glover had while writing his book. A lot of times I won’t even start a task because I don’t think it will be “good enough”. I have several books that I’ve written and had stashed away for years, and I’ve never even tried to even find an agent for any of them. It has also hurt me professionally – the desire to “do great” has sometimes overwhelmed my desire to do anything at all, which frequently means I’ve missed amazing opportunities to do useful (if not perfect) work.
There are also the dreaded “have tos” that can keep you from achieving your goals. If you’re a professional blogger, you might say yourself, “I have to post every day… if I can’t post every day, why bother?” “I have to find the perfect photo for this blog post… until I find the perfect photo, I can’t publish it.” “I have to cater to my target audience with my post. If I’m not reaching my target audience, this post will be a waste of time.” These are poisonous thoughts that will trick you into believing that creating nothing is a better option than creating something that isn’t perfect. This, of course, isn’t true.
Instead, strive to create something that’s good enough. Create something of value. If it’s a bit rough around the edges, that’s fine. And do it from a place of personal passion, not from a place of worrying about what other people will think about you or your work. After finishing his book, Dr. Glover realized:
“Trying to do it right only sucked the life out of No More Mr. Nice Guy! Letting go and letting it just be “good enough” set me free to embrace my passion and create something of lasting value.”