Author events: open up the conversation

I was thrilled to be part of the inaugural Sorrento Writer’s Group Author Event on Saturday. The event provided the chance for local authors to exhibit their wares and to connect with each other and their community, as well as for the Sorrento Writer’s group to let people in on what they’re about.

The opportunity to exhibit came to me at the 11th hour; I’m not a part of the Sorrento Writer’s Group nor do I reside on the pointy end of the Peninsula where most of the publicity was being focused.  Happily though, it was by helping one of the members of my Facebook group (The Content Couch) with her table set up for the event that I became aware that this could also be a useful place for me to be.

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I want to be a dolphin trainer

Over the years I’ve wanted to be many things: a showjumping champion, a dancer, an actor, a lawyer, a journalist, a food photographer, a dog breeder, a travel writer and tour operator. At one point I even wanted to just be a lady of luxury on a yacht. I’ve often found myself SO inspired by the place I find myself standing, or what I’ve just experienced, or who I’m with, that I seriously have considered big career-altering-life-changing shifts (CALC shifts).  I am able to perfectly envision myself doing that thing daily, and I’m filled with joy and excitement.

My recent trip to SeaWorld – unexpectedly – filled me with that same sense of opportunity and desire.

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Perfect content? Are you kidding?

Do you get nervous whenever you have to send something out, worrying that it won’t be exactly right?

Do you cringe every time you’re about to press publish on Facebook?

Do you muck around with your sales pages, your marketing materials, your emails to the point of spinning in circles? Or even worse, to the point of not sending them out at all?

It’s time for a perfection intervention!

You know that there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to creating content for your business, right? It is simply impossible to get to this mythical point called ‘perfection’ because the truth is that you can continue to make changes and improvements for ever! Creative work will never be perfect, but at a certain point, you must just decide that it is done.

An old CEO of mine once said: “Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress.” I didn’t realise how true that was until I started my own business.  You see, it’s always easier to let go of the content when it’s not your baby that it relates to. Not that I was ever sloppy or slapdash with my content previously, but when I was writing for other brands, the attachment simply wasn’t as high as it is with my own; it was easier to let it go at ‘really good’ versus ‘outstanding’.

It’s perfectly normal and understandable for any business owner who has vested endless energy and effort into getting every little detail of their business just right, to want to get every single word perfect. What I’m going to suggest however, is that you may need to lower your standards a bit. Now, I’m not saying to put out low-quality content by any means, but if your standards are so high that you never actually reach them, you are in fact inhibiting your own growth. How will anyone get to know, like and trust you if they never hear from you? How will prospects understand where you position your services if you don’t talk about them?  It is important to strike a balance and have standards that are achievable.

Perfection paralysis is a real thing. But it’s not a good thing if you want your business to expand.

Here are 4 considerations that may help you to embrace imperfection.

Just start creating

Author, Brene Brown, summed up this irony beautifully in her book Daring Greatly: “Perfectionism crushes creativity – which is why one of the most effective ways to start recovering from perfectionism is to start creating.” Perfectionism can cause us to stop creating before we even get started simply due to fear that we won’t live up to our own standards. Ridiculous but true! And the more we do this, the more it continues to occur.  The reality is that self expression and creativity are inherently messy and imperfect.

Take the example of painting. In our culture, most adults refuse to pick up a brush and paint a picture because they think they can’t create something worthwhile.  Head to any kindergarten or preschool however, and the room will be filled with enthusiastic painters, all creating their own masterpieces freely and excitedly.  They have not yet learnt the meaning of perfectionism.  Their messy, imperfect paintings are beautiful!

Conversation and connection

Building relationships with people is the primary purpose of business content, therefore, when creating content it may help to think about it like a conversation. When you talk to someone you don’t plan every word you are going to say ahead of time. You may hesitate or struggle for words but that doesn’t reduce your ability to connect with that person. In fact, showing some ‘humanness’ and imperfection often makes you more relatable.  Remember the old saying ‘nobody is perfect’? Well it’s true! So stop trying to be. If you’re aiming to provide a flawless image in your business comms you may actually be doing damage to your brand. Why? Because you raise questions and concerns amongst your readers about the possibility of perfection.  You alienate them by making them feel less than worthy, which is the opposite of what you want to do with your content.

Consider the stats

Short-term content pieces, such as emails and blogs, unfortunately don’t get read all the way through by up to 70% of viewers. Sad but true! Most readers skim read these pieces of content.  So, as far as perfection goes, it may help to realise that your audience is NOT nit-picking your content nearly as much as you are!

Everything is a test

As business owners we should always be trying and testing and measuring new things.  As entrepreneurs and innovators – that’s what we do! Inevitably, it won’t all land perfectly. Viewing this as ‘failure’ however, is not useful to anyone.  Rather think of it as R&D – research and development.  The more you try things out, the more information you uncover, which helps you to do it better or differently next time. And since nothing is ever perfect, everything is a test!

Stop aiming for perfection, and start seeking out the beautifully imperfect. It is there that you learn and grow.

Let me know if you struggle with perfection….I can help.

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There’s nothing wrong with being an ostrich

There’s absolute validity in knowing what your competition is doing. And there are very good reasons to study those in your field, particularly if they are ahead of you in skill or experience.  HOWEVER, there is also real danger in obsessing about who’s doing what, when and why, and how much more they’re earning/doing than you are.

Think for a minute about how many days and how many brain cells you’ve wasted this year worrying about her over there….or him down the road.  Think about how many grey hairs you could have saved yourself by not stressing about the fact that so-and-so seems to be everywhere doing everything, whilst you’re stuck behind a computer trying to make ends meet.

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Trump the Trump: create your own future

You would have to be hiding under a rock if you hadn’t seen or heard what has transpired over the last 48 hours in the US. The Presidential Election which has gone on FOREVER is finally at a close, with a not terribly popular (ironic, given he’s the winner) result.

The media, bloggers, journos – hell, everyone in social media land – has gone crazy reporting every minute detail about the outcome, including their own fears and freak-outs about what it’s going to mean for America and the rest of the world.  And whilst I have to admit that when I first heard that Mr “You’re Fired” is now a world leader I almost choked on my protein ball, I have to say I didn’t immediately go into “the world is going to end” mode.

Little known fact: I’m actually an American citizen. I could have voted in this election. But I chose not to. One, because I don’t live there and postal votes only get counted if it’s looking like a tie, and two I wasn’t informed enough about the individuals and their parties to know what they actually stand for.  I’m not an idiot, so on the surface I could see that Trump was a pretty revolting choice. His ability to shoot his mouth off and offend an amazing cross-section of the community is quite remarkable to say the least.  But I felt like a hypocrite voting for just anyone in defiance of him, given I have little idea about what their policies would do for the larger population.

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