Three Essential Don’ts

Summer may already seem like a figment of our imaginations, but I gotta say, I love the “back to school” energy of September.

Around this time each year, I find myself bursting with new ideas, itching to do all the things, and craving stuff to do and places to go.  

BUT, I also recognize that while so much of success and progress depends on what we do, as much depends on what we don’t do. So on this fine September Sunday, I thought I’d share some essentials on what we can all stop, avoid, prevent, let go of, and kick to the curb.

Essential Don’t # 1 – Don’t hide behind “perfectionism”

I get it. We love to be in control. We love to get things done. We love having things done our way. And we are really, really, really good at some things, maybe even a lot of things. But too often, self-proclaimed perfectionism is just anxiety in disguise.

“It has to be perfect or people will never buy it”; “No one will execute my vision as perfectly as I can”; “If I don’t do it, it won’t ever get done”; etc, etc, etc. 

But the thing is, done is better than perfect. Trying is better than worrying. An imperfect business is better than one that stays in your head. Get something out there and then improve, iterate, and – dare I say – perfect it later.

Essential Don’t #2 – Don’t shy away from asking for what you want

Whether we admit it or not, we all have standards and expectations and preferences for the way we want things to be done. It doesn’t matter if someone else thinks it’s stupid or over the top or irrelevant because no one else can tell us what we care about. And that’s why it’s so important, in life and in business, to ask for what you want.

We wouldn’t go to a coffee shop and expect the barista to know what we wanted without telling her (well, unless you’re a regular and always order the same thing…), so why do we do that with our partners, our clients, our suppliers, or our colleagues?

Why not just communicate what we want, exactly how we want it, and take the guesswork out of it? Why not be specific about when certain instructions are must-haves and when others can be executed within general parameters? It doesn’t mean we’ll always get what we want, but at least it leaves no room for mis-interpretation. And when we communicate what we want and are specific about it, it frees the people in our lives from the stress of not knowing and makes it easier for them to succeed

Essential Don’t #3 – Don’t Always Listen to Your Customer

There’s that great Henry Ford quote: “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” And that is true for all of us.

Sometimes a customer doesn’t know what they want until you show it to them. And sometimes what they want is not part of your plan for your business. You can only offer what you can offer.

Now, I’m not saying we should ignore our customers or pretend like their suggestions or requests are irrelevant. What I am saying is that we should work hard to make our service or product as good as possible, hold ourselves to really high standards in how we deliver it, commit to always improving, listen to feedback and requests, and then filter the feedback and requests.

Some ideas might be worth considering, others might not. A request is not an order. Feedback is not a command. You don’t always have to listen to your customer. And sometimes when they ask for a horse, you have to give them a Model T instead.

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About Me
Rupal Patel logo
The daughter of Indian immigrants, Rupal is a born-and-bred New Yorker now living near London. Her high-octane career as a CIA officer turned serial entrepreneur has taken her from military briefing rooms in jungles and war zones to corporate boardrooms and international stages.

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