Give Them the Third Best


“Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, the best never comes.”

So said Robert Watson-Watts, the man who pioneered aircraft detecting radar, which helped England win the Battle of Britain.

This moto slaps perfectionism in the face and totally calls its bluff.

“Just tweak this a little longer, and it will be flawless.” No.

“Just research this a little more, and you’ll have all the information.” No.

“Just talk about this with a few more people and it will be fail-proof.” No.

No, no, no.

You see, Watson-Watts understood that the perfection is an illusion. You can spend your whole life chasing it and still come up empty. Meanwhile, the people who need your gifts never receive them.

If you ever want to “ship” anything (Seth Godin’s term for it) you must learn how to release imperfect work.

As a recovering perfectionist, this can feel like torture for me sometimes. But as Jon Acuff says,

“90 % perfect and published [shipped] always changes more lives than 100 % perfect and stuck in your head.”

You never have time to deliver the perfect product, and even your second best may come too late. So just do the best work you can right now and release it as you’re able.

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