Embracing Imperfection: A Halloween Tale

By October 28, 2013June 29th, 2015Marketing Insights & Strategy
Embracing Imperfection: A Halloween Tale

This post has been repurposed from one of our personal weekly emails of exclusive content for subscribers. Although we generally don’t republish that content here (subscribe if you want more of the good stuff!), I got great feedback on this one and a lot of encouragement to share it farther and wider. So here it is. I hope it entertains and inspires you!

Holidays always bring me back to my childhood when everything was larger than life and the shape of one jack-o-lantern could make or break the whole year…

Which reminds me of The Year Without A Jack-O-Lantern, and I want to share it with you.

I was probably about twelve years old (ie: old enough to know better) and things had been hectic that year, so instead of the yearly hunt for The Perfect Pumpkin happening sometime in early October, we didn’t end up going out to buy one until the day before Halloween.

My mom packed us up in the car (there were three… or maybe four? of us at the time) and headed down to the local nursery where we had bought our pumpkins before.

But there was a problem that year. Since we’d waited so long, the only pumpkins left were the squished, oblong ones and the dented ones and the lopsided ones.

And the problem was that we wanted the perfect pumpkin.

It had to be round.

It had to be symmetrical.

It had to have the perfect stem so you could pull the top off like a lid and pop a candle inside.

So you can imagine the mayhem that ensued when several children, very used to getting The Perfect Pumpkin, discovered only imperfect ones.

We whined. We complained. We insisted on going somewhere else to find a better pumpkin.

I should mention at this point that my mother is a saint and a goddess and probably a little crazy, because she packed us all back up in the car, seat belts, car seats and all, and hiked us another five miles to the next nursery.

Do you want to guess what we found there?

I’ll give you a hint: NOT The Perfect Pumpkin.

We whined. We yelled. We insisted on trying someplace else because the Halloween festivities could simply not commence without that pumpkin.

I’ll tell you, my mother went to heroic lengths that day to appease three (or four?) extremely demanding, spoiled kids and make sure that they had The Perfect Halloween.

She drove us around for hours, to every nursery, roadside vegetable stand and supermarket in a 30 mile radius.

For naught, I might add, because there was nary a Perfect Pumpkin to be found.

And so do you know what we did?

We went home without one.

That’s right, we refused to accept anything less than perfect and so we had no pumpkin at all that year. No carving party. No jack-o-lantern. No candles.

The younger ones cried. I was too old for that, so I sulked horribly.

Halloween was RUINED! (Yes, we did say that. Ruined.)

I think my mom was ready to leave us all at the next roadside stand by the end, but to her great credit, she managed to pull off Halloween anyway (and have two more kids after that, so you see why I call her a bit crazy).

The funny thing is that I hardly remember any of our jack-o-lanterns, but I will always remember the year without one.

And so we come to the point.

Which, if you haven’t guessed by now is this: perfection sucks.

Or, to be a little more elegant about it, perfection is unattainable, unnecessary and unforgiving.

It will hang you up every time.

When it comes to your business and marketing, if you’re stuck in a perfection mindset, you’re going to end up just like us, crying about everything being ruined and then going home with nothing.

You’ll never get anything done – heck, you may never even get anything started. You’ll always be waiting for “the perfect time” (or its just-as-debilitating cousin “a better time”).

Instead of celebrating your successes you’ll be calculating the millimeters that you were off the mark.

Instead of trying new things, making mistakes and learning, you’ll be limited to only doing what you know works (which, when it comes to business and marketing, is a whole lot of not much!)

And I guarantee you’ll have a lot less fun.

Since The Great Pumpkin Debacle, I’ve learned to embrace imperfection.

Nowadays, I go straight for imperfection right out of the gate. I buy the crookedest, dented-est, most lopsided pumpkins I can find and enjoy playing with them and experimenting to see what kind of beautiful or interesting (or even uniquely ugly) thing I can make out of them.

When it comes to marketing, I make mistakes first, ask questions later. And oh, I make mistakes! But you know what I’ve found? It’s a lot easier to make mistakes early, and realize they’re not going to kill you, than to try to be as perfect as possible and live in constant angst in anticipation of the day something goes wrong.

So today I want you to stop what you’re doing for a second, and think about what you’re NOT doing because you want it to be perfect. Or because you’re waiting for “the right” time. Or a better time. Or any other time at all. Or until you get it just right. Or better. Or whatever hurdle you’ve constructed in your mind about why something is “not good enough” or not “ready”.

Think about that thing, and then imagine it in a field of pumpkins. If it’s the squishiest, crookedest one there, then grab it and run with it!

Create something.

Do something.

Don’t wait for perfect or even close.

Now tell me in the comments what that thing is and how you’re going to embrace it right now. Let me know how I can help you!