One of the hardest things to do is click the “Send” or “Publish” button. It means you have to put yourself out there with what is ultimately incomplete work. What you decide to send is never perfect because anyone can come along and tell you a few things to improve. You can always make your design, content and ideas better.
And if you are not able to ship, then time mercilessly marches on. You miss a window to share an important thought at what could have been the perfect time.
Forbes magazine can’t afford to operate out of perfection. The New York Times has a daily deadline. They get their content as professional and clean as possible, but they also have to ship. They have a deadline that never ends – daily, weekly, monthly.
Old articles fade in their value as the newest and freshest news becomes what matters to readers. These content companies understand that if they miss on something, which they do not necessarily strive to do, they have thousands of future articles and issues to continue to bring value. They don’t hold the schedule up for what could be better. They want to show up. And by showing up, they continue to build engagement and rapport.
Perfection doesn’t necessarily buy you more praise or help you avoid the criticisms of readers. Showing up with frequency has much more value than trying to get things just right.
You may have to live with the fact that the more you put yourself out there and the larger your audience, you are opening yourself up to critics. It’s part of the natural audience distribution of putting your work out there for people to consume and use. Now if the amount of criticism is extremely high, you may need to revisit your strategy. But having some criticism is a signal that people are paying attention enough to offer their feedback. This is better than having people who ignore you altogether.
The way I like to think of what continuous shipping means is that you are growing something and building a body of work over time. You are not swinging for home runs every time. That is unrealistic. That’s not how artists, creatives or companies work.
You are increasing your probabilities of connecting by being consistent and showing up. People can depend on your timeliness and commitment to be of value. If you miss once in a while, you will have hundreds of times to continue honing your work. But you have to keep showing up and making that decision to ship with the tradeoff of lacking perfection.
In the long run, you will build trust this way. Your audience can depend on your consistency. You will free yourself from the anguish and elusiveness of waiting for perfection. But you will increase your credibility, permission and trust this way in the long run. So ship and keep growing. Make perfection something you do over time, not at every shipping point.