Cut the Thread of Perfectionism

May 25, 2018

I spent 15 years in United States Marine Corps. One of the things Marines are known for is how good they look in their uniforms.

Let me give you a behind the scenes about the process to look that good in those uniforms. It involves a little pair of scissors and a whole lot of time.

You see, take all those extra threads that hang into your seams. We remove those by using either a lighter or scissors. Either cuticle scissors or super sharp sewing scissors.

When I first joined the Marine Corps, everything visible for my first uniform inspection was perfectly prepared. Then the sergeant came by to inspect.

He opens my breast pocket, reaches inside and pulls out what could be a rappelling rope. It was long enough and thick enough to go off of Half Dome. To my dismay, he kept pulling and it kept getting longer!

I learned in that moment, that attention to detail for the uniform inspection (at least for the USMC) meant to turn the pocket inside out and trim those threads. Also, we had to turn our belts inside out and trim those threads in the crease.

That's the level of the detail it takes for Marines to look really sharp in their uniforms.

For you perfectionists out there, I want you to hear something else. You reached the point where you got as many of the loose threads cleaned up as you were able. Time, experience, and other people taught you where else to look.

It wasn’t perfectionism, though. Because you got in the game. You stood for the inspection.

That’s different than what some people mean by perfectionism. They don’t want to get into the game unless it's "perfect".

Well, the USMC had that helping hand to say “it’s 6 in the morning. You will be in formation so we can inspect your uniform.”

There’s that timeline. For you, if you’re facing that obstacle of perfectionism to get your product ready, set that deadline.

There are going to be those metaphorical threads in your pocket that you’re not aware of. Just like the sergeant who pulled out that rappelling rope thread for me!

With enough time and experience you’ll learn where to look. That way you can improve your product, process, and dreams. Whatever it is you’re working on.

Bottom line: get into the game!

That’s what a perfectionist does. You put something out to the market, your team, your family, or your consumers. Whoever it is! You solicit and receive feedback and refine. Once you refine, you stand for inspection again.

Until next time, my friends, remember to go out and win your dreams today.



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