It turns out that, as a consultant, committing certain errors isn’t just acceptable, it’s practically mandatory if you want to build your consulting business.
Before I became a published author, I worked on a book about the top challenges facing CEOs. It never made it to the bookshelves. Neither did my very first book: “My Dads a Dinasore.” The only difference being that the 250-page CEO book took three years to research and draft, whereas the other I wrote when I was three years old with six pieces of construction paper and a crayon.
Working on a book that didn’t get published may have felt like a big mistake, but it wasn’t. It led, in ways I won’t relate now, to many of the success I’ve had since. Most mistakes loom larger in the moment than they turn out to be in the long term.
But this is not an admonishment to take on big challenges, recognizing you’ll have failures along the way. You already know that.
Instead, I want to focus on the other side of the spectrum. The little gaffes you make on everyday activities. Stop preventing and rectifying them.
Perfectionism is a form of procrastination.
You are avoiding mistakes that you shouldn’t be worried about. Not because they aren’t harmful or damaging, but because averting them drains time, attention, energy and passion you could be devoting to huge wins.
The exchange you should be willing to make is: small mistakes for big accomplishments. Or, as Tim Ferris has written, “In order to do the big things, you have to let the small, bad things happen.”
When you understand the value of what you’ll gain you realize it’s not a big deal to commit some errors.
Which blunders should you embrace? Looking around at the consultants I coach and at my own proclivities, I see plenty of opportunities. Here are a few to get you started.
Publish your blog/newsletter with typos and grammatical errors
My blogs are proofread by someone on my team before you see them. If they weren’t, an occasional sentence look like tihs. Every now and again an error slips through. You know what: I don’t care. You should be equally indifferent with your periodic content. Readers are forgiving and both you and your staff can do much better things with your time than review an article a second, third or fourth time.
Let your admin send a “bad” email, handle a call poorly or bungle a minor task
Sure, if you wrote the email it would be better. If you handled the call you’d know exactly what to say. So what? Will it depress the revenue you’ll earn this year or next? Probably not.
Be totally absent or incompetent on social media
If you’re involved in social media, give it a week-long break. In our business, social media isn’t a big deal. Can you attract clients through relationships that begin on LinkedIn? Maybe. Twitter? Not likely. Facebook? No. Social media is less reliable than more traditional, visibility-building approaches and if you let social media go while you’re pursuing higher-potential avenues, little is lost.
“Waste” hundreds of dollars
Buy software that’s under $100 “on a whim” and try it. Rather than reading about it for three hours, just purchase it. If it makes you more efficient, keep it. If not, toss it and move on. Similarly, buy office supplies that meet your needs and are easily found in the local store or online, not slightly better and/or less expensive products you could find through diligent investigation.
A penny saved is not a penny earned.
A penny saved is a valuable hour wasted.
Those are just a few starting points, of course. Ignoring your email for a couple of days could have made the list too. No doubt a few minor tragedies would occur, but you could use that time to tackle a big win on your to-do list.
What small mistakes will you ignore so you can pursue the big wins?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.