by Tom Ruwitch
In 1481, Augustinian monks hired Leonardo DaVinci to create a painting for the altar in their monastery near Florence.
They gave DaVinci 30 months to finish the large oil painting that would depict the adoration of the magi – the nativity scene in which three kings (“magi”) adore baby Jesus.
DaVinci didn’t meet the deadline. He tinkered and tweaked. He added and adjusted. He pursued perfection.
But he couldn’t get the painting just right so he never released the work.
The monks lost patience and canceled the commission.
They hired Filippino Lippi to create the altarpiece, instead.
Art historians say Lippi’s Adoration is way worse than Leo’s… except…
DaVinci had lots of unfinished works.
DaVinci was the better painter.
But Lippi met deadlines, delivered the good and – most importantly – cashed in.
Today, we call DaVinci a genius and gawk at his works in great churches and museums – The Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris, The Last Supper in the Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, and his unfinished Adoration of the Magi at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Many art historians call DaVinci the greatest artist ever.
But back in the day, DaVinci was just another struggling artist who scrambled to pay his bills.
The bottom line: Leonardo DaVinci had a perfection problem.
Do you have a perfection problem?
I do. It’s not persistent. But it’s always lurking in the shadows.
Most of the time I keep it in check, but occasionally perfectionism rears its ugly head and holds me back.
It happened last month.
I was working on a new version of a 60-minute storytelling presentation. I was tinkering and tweaking, adding and adjusting. I was pursuing perfection. And it was holding me back.
My friend Susan, who was helping me with the presentation, had seen enough.
Gently but firmly, she said, “Tom, it does NOT have to be perfect.” And, of course, she was right.
I snapped to my senses and knocked out the presentation later that day.
Action drives business. Inaction kills it.
Remember that the next time you’re thinking, “I can’t launch an email campaign because I’m not a good enough writer.”
(You’re good enough, or you can hire someone who is good enough.)
Think of Lippi cashing in the next time you re-edit content, over and over again, because it’s “not quite right.”
(It’s right enough or you can hire someone who can quickly make it right enough.)
If you wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait…
…until your stuff is practically perfect, you choose inaction over action.
Then, like DaVinci and me, you will have a perfection problem that becomes a business problem.
Tom Ruwitch is the Founder and Chief Story Officer at Story Power Marketing. He’s offering a free, 12-minute micro-training called “The 3 Most Important Storytelling Keys to Captivate Prospects and Inspire Them to Buy -- Without Pitching and Prodding.” Instant access at: StoryPowerMarketing.com/3keys.