You may have heard that saying.
We tend to keep polishing our work endlessly as a way to delay sharing it with the outside world.
The blog post draft never gets published. The website never goes live. The painting never sees the light of day.
We don’t want to hear harsh criticism when we share our creative work.
So, we keep our doors and windows shut, and keep working alone by ourselves. It’s less painful. At least in the short term.
“Usage is like oxygen for ideas. You can never fully anticipate how an audience is going to react to something you’ve created until it’s out there. That means every moment you’re working on something without it being in the public it’s actually dying, deprived of the oxygen of the real world.”
[The above quote is by Matt Mullenweg. You may not know of Matt, but you probably visit websites every day that are powered by his product, called WordPress. WordPress powers a staggering 40% of all websites today.]
Our work needs the “oxygen” of feedback from the outside world. And the only way we can get feedback is if we “ship” our work.
And then once it’s out there, you
– You get glowing, positive comments.
– Or slightly more scary: scathing criticism of your work
– Or the scariest of them all: You just get silence. Crickets. No one cares.
Now here’s the thing. All 3 of the above are “oxygen” for your work.
Even when no one seems to care, it’s telling you that whatever you’ve created is either not useful for people in general or that it’s not good enough yet to elicit a response from them.
Or that you were just asking the wrong set of folks for feedback. If your work is meant to help teachers do a better job, asking a student for feedback isn’t useful.
You’ve now moved forward. You’ve bravely and generously shared your work with the world.
Your work has got the oxygen it needed.
If you wanted to move on to another project after all that effort and your dance-with-fear while trying to get feedback, no one can blame you.
But you’re better than that. So, what do you do?
You make your project better, of course.
Either by using the feedback you got…to make improvements to your work. Or by starting all over again.
Eventually, your next version gets ready. And you’re smarter this time. You give your work the oxygen it needs by sharing it and getting more feedback.
Is it done yet? Probably not.
Version 3. Version 4. Version 5. On and on.
It’s a continuous process that never ends. A cycle of ideation, creation, and getting feedback.
1. Perfect is the enemy of the good: Don’t let the pursuit of perfection get in the way of giving your work the oxygen it needs.
2. But “perfect” is a verb, not a noun: After getting the feedback, go back to the drawing board and improve your work.
It’s like a see-saw. Back and forth. Back and forth.