In David and Tom Kelley’s book Creative Confidence,David writes: “We recently talked with two employees at IDEO from very different backgrounds. Yet both had the same fear of approaching the white board in a business meeting. One was an industrial design intern with sophisticated drawing skills who had studied at the Art Center College of Design in Pasedena. The other was a business designer with a Harvard MBA and  a bright and analytical mind who didn’t think of himself as artistic at all. The business guy didn’t want to look silly trying to visually express an idea with a whiteboard sketch. And the skilled artist didn’t want to be judged by the kind of drawing he could create in thirty seconds in front of an impatient audience. One was hemmed in by timidity, the other by perfectionism. But the end result was the same. Each preferred to sit in his chair rather than risk being judged by his peers.”

This really struck me as true for many kinds of risk-taking situations.

I know I have let both extremes influence my choices or lack of them over the years.

As a former teacher, it has been hard to give up perfectionism. And to purposely do something that I already know I am not good at, gives me stomach flutters. (And not the good kind.)

So I have started to look at the things I have attempted and failed and then gave up on.

The first thing occurred twenty years or so ago. I wanted to learn to play syncopation. I had an excellent teacher. I just couldn’t get my fingers to move the way they were supposed to. But instead of  doing what I could have done, practiced and played imperfectly, I stopped practicing altogether. I couldn’t do it perfectly, then I wasn’t going to do it all.

Now the truth is that Divine mind knows no limits. If I had continued to practice and to think optimistically I might have been able to play some of those funky songs now. I would still need to practice and do it imperfectly .

How many ideas have you scrapped because you were too timid or too much of a perfectionist?