I have a tendency to guard myself against failure by taking protective measures. I over-prepare for new tasks. When my son asked me to paint his bike, I spent two days googling “how to paint a bike,” pored over every article, developed opinions on competing methods, and read reviews of different brands of spray paint before I had even picked up a piece of sandpaper. And in the end, the bike looked about as good as every other dad-who-doesn’t-know-what-he’s-doing paint job. This self-protective tendency stems from perfectionism. My desire to know all the variables, plan every detail, and avoid bumps in the road often keeps me from making any progress.
So, recently, I’ve been taking small steps toward my goals, even though I can’t see the complete path. Last weekend I took my very first improv comedy class at the St. Louis Comedy Connection. It’s one piece of the puzzle in my goal to create Brian 2.0. There was nothing particularly revolutionary or life changing in the content of the class, but it was ACTION. I wasn’t just watching youtube clips, listening to podcasts, reading comedy books, or researching improv – I was actually doing it. We learned about the about the concept of “Yes. And . . . ” where we force ourselves to agree with our scene partners and build on each other’s choices, rather than forcing our pre-conceived notions of where the scene should go. I need more improvisation in more aspects of my life: Taking more risks, learning from mistakes, facing my fears, acting before the plan is complete, and pushing through the terrifying moments.
I’ve also begun working on a sitcom pilot idea with my writing partner. It’s something neither of us have done before, but we’re sticking our necks out there and learning as we go. We don’t have hours and hours each day to dedicate to it, so our brainstorming and writing times are done in really short bursts. Again, though, it’s action, and it feels great. Our current goal is to have a script done in time for a sitcom pilot script contest, which is helping us stay focused and pace ourselves accordingly. We’re probably making a lot of mistakes, and our writing times aren’t very efficient, but we are making progress and learning.
What are you putting off for fear of failure? Is the desire for perfection keeping you from progress?