Have you ever been on a job interview where they asked you what your biggest flaw is? I remember reading how people might ask that question and I thought for sure it was a joke. I mean, who has the balls to ask a total stranger what the worst thing about them is? But what if they did? Shit. I needed an answer. A good answer. What bad thing about myself could I say that made me look good? It wasn't long before the day came when someone did have the balls to ask me that question. Oh yeah, they went there, but I was prepared. You know what my answer was? "Oh, I'm such a perfectionist. I just work so hard on things and I want them to be perfect!" Awesome, right? I know, I'm so smart! That answer worked for me time and time again. It was kind of like my equivalent to the perfect pickup line. And it got me out of coming up with an actual flaw to talk about. Like how I get really hangry during long meetings. Or how I concentrate best when my desk is messy and littered with post-its all around my computer screen. After a while though, I kind of started to realize that maybe this whole perfectionist deal really was a bit of a pain in the ass. It was nice to want to get things just right, but when it got down to it, I needed to get shit done, and needing to have everything perfect took a whole lot of time. Sometimes, the idea of wanting to put out something spectacular just put me off doing something in the first place. If you're a perfectionist, you know that you can imagine something totally amazing and in the next moment, shoot down the idea completely because there's a little something missing to make it happen the way it looks in your head. And it makes sense like that. The world does not need more crap. Right? Well, kinda, but not really. At one of those jobs that I got by telling them I was an incurable perfectionist, each year, I got to go to a fancy conference where they would hire super cool Ted-talk like speakers to come inspire everybody. It was always my favorite part! That and fancy desserts at every meal. But one year, there was a particular speaker that totally changed my way of thinking with one line:
Don't worry, be crappy. Seriously - Guy Kawasaki - if you're reading this, you changed my world! When he first said those words, I thought "Ha ha! Cute! But WTF? No. Who wants to be crappy?" But as he went on, it all started to make sense and it was kind of one the the big holy shit moments of my life. Up until that point, I was getting so wrapped up with getting things perfect and thinking that if I couldn't be absolutely amazing at something, it just wasn't worth it. But that's a lie. A HUGE lie. And I don't care if someone told it to you or if you're the one telling it to yourself - but you need to stop. Like right now. So here's how it works. There is a scale of awesomeness in this world. It goes something like this: Crappy --> Meh --> So-so --> Not bad --> Sort of Ok --> Cool --> Awesome So as you can see, crappy is the lowest you can get on the scale. I know, not super desirable. We're all pretty much aiming for awesome, right? And there's nothing wrong with that. But crappy is actually pretty awesome too. And you know why? Because it's on the scale. It's there. It means you're at least shooting for awesome. You may have landed a bit far from it, but you tried. And that is pretty fantastic. But you know what's NOT on the scale of awesomeness? Being too scared to even give things a shot. Not trying is a guarantee that you will never be awesome at that particular thing. And yes, I've been stuck there before too. But being crappy? Well, that means you're well on your way, even if you're taking a little detour through Stinkytown. When you start to embrace crappy for what it really is - the very beginning of awesome - magic starts to happen! You don't start to feel so bad that you're not cranking out something amazing. You give yourself permission to play around. You realize that for each fail, there is the potential to learn great things that might get you to awesome in a hurry. If I was too worried about being crappy, I would never be where I am today. Yes, I know that I'm the owner of a tiny company that is just getting started, but what is a big exciting development to me is actually the culmination of many little crappy things I've been working on that are turning into awesome right before my eyes. The first lip balm I ever made? It was not very good. (It was rock hard and the cinnamon I put in it felt like sand and stung my lips) The first label I designed? It was kind of meh. And I did it in Word. The first time I started looking into all the nitty gritty details of launching a line of lip balms? I kind of just wanted to drop the whole idea because it seemed so complicated. And those are just a few recent things I've sucked at. As I was going over the first product shots I took of Eclair Lips, I got to thinking about the first time I ever styled a product shot. It was for a college photo styling class (more about that here) and I had such high hopes. I picked one of my favorite products - some Lip Smackers (see, I'm really totally obsessed!) and thought I would do a super cool space themed shot complete with glitter sand and dangling stars. I cringe just writing this because I really don't get how I thought that would amount to a good picture. And guess what? I got them back and was horrified. So did not look like what I pictured in my head. It sucked, like, big huge donkey balls.
As I was telling the story to my hubby, it occurred to me that I still had those pics stashed in my bedroom so ran up to grab them. We had a good laugh. And now, so can you: Yes, those are fake berries. Mouthwatering, no? So yeah, this was definitely worth a giggle, but it was also a really awesome reminder that even if you don't rock something the first time around, you can improve so much if you just keep at it. You just need to give yourself permission to try something, play around, have fun and be totally ok with the idea that this time, you might really suck. But next time, well, it's pretty likely that you'll suck less. But that's the catch - you need to stick with something time after time to move along the scale from crappy to awesome.
And it's because I was able to make that mental adjustment for myself that I'm here now starting this little company that I'm so excited about. It's because I had fun playing around with my formulas that they got better and better. It's because I decided to take a deep breath and be ok with the fact that my labels would take longer to design since I was creating them myself and learning how to do it along the way. It's because I embraced my newbie entrepreneur status instead of being embarrassed about what I didn't know that I had the guts to dive in and ask pros about all the technical biz stuff I needed to learn to move forward. Crappy isn't final. It's not a label we'll wear for the rest of our lives. It's just the beginning. It's in the same league as curiosity, determination and excitement. You mix crappy in with all of that, throw it in the oven for a while and you end up with awesome. And the world can always use more of that.