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#2: The freedom of being imperfect

By 2022-11-25May 12th, 2023No Comments

Less is more. I closed the last Freedom Letter with these words.

This not only applies to things, but also to the endeavor of doing as many tasks as possible as well as possible.

The whole year something was seething in me. I felt that it was time to help others on their journey to freedom. That’s how The ABC of Freedom came to be. A loose collection of ideas grew into the book I’m giving to all Freedom Letter readers.

But it was an inner struggle to finally publish the book! It was supposed to be ready before my keynote at LEBE MUTIG. But the preparation for the stage performance claimed more of my time than expected. I suspected that I would not meet the deadline I had set for myself. So I announced the book for “a few days” after the talk. How many days are few?

The problem was no longer other tasks that kept me from finishing. It was my own perfectionism. I wanted the book to be as good as possible. Every reader should think “Wow! There is so much value in this book, it really helps me in my life.” Every day I sat down at the computer and wrote, moved, streamlined, corrected, wrote more. I could have gone on and on and you would never have got to see the book.

Perfectionism is the enemy of freedom!

You will never be finished. You will never have all the information. At some point you will find what you think is a better way and in the end it may turn out that the first way would have been the best.

When it comes to making decisions in the cockpit, the pilots don’t have forever and fuel is limited. At some point a decision has to be made. It can never be perfect. To maintain the high level of safety, the system must be forgiving of mistakes. It recognizes that neither man nor machine is perfect. Everything is designed to be redundant, fault-tolerant, resilient, anti-fragile.

What is your own life like? Will the house of cards collapse if you don’t do everything perfectly? How can you shape your life in a way that allows you to be imperfect? Position yourself in such a way that you can make mistakes, maybe even find joy in them.

In the last few days before I finally published the ebook, I kept thinking about this quote from James Clear:

“Speed is important. Work fast and iterate. People rarely remember the first draft, but everyone remembers the final draft.

Speed is unimportant. People rarely remember how long it took you to do the job, but everyone remembers how well you did the job.”

It almost drove me insane. How can you contrast two such contradictory statements? Which one is right? You will never know the answer to that either! As an author, you can split your audience into two groups, letting one group participate in the development of your work and only showing the other the final draft. Still, there are many other factors at play. You will never know or be able to influence all of them.

This newsletter is also an exercise for me to be less of a perfectionist. The goal is to write 600 words in German in about an hour, bring them into a readable form and publish them. The english translation takes another 15-20 minutes. This is the only way for long-term success of the Freedom Letter. I can’t read it 42 times, correct it again, improve it, optimize it. Nobody’s perfect! And in the process, I’m learning to be perfectly imperfect. Because if I impose the restriction of being fast on myself, I gradually learn to formulate my thoughts better in less time.

What is one task that you can do less perfectly from now on?


Yours, Ulrich

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