I’m not a big fan of inspirational quotes, but I recently found myself resonating with a few pragmatic perspectives.
The first one comes from Jerry Seinfeld. In a recent interview he says that simply asking yourself ‘what am I really sick off?’ is key to innovation:
It’s very important to know what you don’t like. A big part of innovation is saying, “You know what I’m really sick of?” For me, that was talk shows where music plays, somebody walks out to a desk, shakes hands with the host, and sits down. “How are you?” “You look great.” I’m also sick of people who are really there to sell their show or product.
“What am I really sick of?” is where innovation begins.
— Jerry Seinfeld, An interview by Daniel McGinn
The second perspective comes from Jeff Bezos, the guy who revolutionized the way we shop online. He warns about the inevitable criticism associated with any pragmatic approach:
If you never want to be criticized, for goodness’ sake don’t do anything new.
— Jeff Bezos
Too bad this quote was also used by Trump in a tweet…
The third perspective was triggered by the previous two: I remembered a principle from the book ‘Soft Skills‘, written by John Sonmez. This principle was ‘Any action is better than no action’, and when I looked back in the book, I found this quote:
Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it’s no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.
—Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
Update: While proof reading this post I remembered about another perspective, about forcing yourself to do things imperfectly. It comes from Sara Mauskopf, the founder of Winnie, who gives a very concrete example:
I have given myself an hour to write this post before I’m on childcare duty. I can publish the post after that hour or I can spend more time later polishing it and making it perfect. I’m forcing myself to publish the piece before the hour is up even though it probably has some typos and maybe could be written more concisely. The extra couple hours I could spend polishing it won’t make a massive difference in the number of people who read and benefit from this post.
Perfectionism is a tough habit to break so you have to set time limits and force yourself to just put things out there even if they aren’t 100% perfect.
— Sara Mauskopf, How to start a company with no free time
Finally, there is no better way to motivate yourself into doing something than saying ‘Challenge accepted‘. It works for me 🙂