Stop and Put Your Pencils Down: The Importance of Turning In Your Unfinished Work
Back when I used to teach high school every Friday was a test day. There were forty-two minutes in a class period, which meant that by the time we sat down, did attendance, etc. there were roughly 35-40 minutes remaining to take the test. The room would go silent and, as the minutes ticked by, I would watch as certain students got closer to the end of the test while others stayed a bit stuck somewhere in the middle. A few minutes before the bell would ring, I would say:
“Stop. Put your pencils down and hand your papers to the front of the room.”
There would be students who would groan. Some would beg for more time while others would try to furiously write their last few sentences before I got to their row to collect their test.
It wasn’t until I started working for myself as an entrepreneur that I truly felt their pain. It’s really difficult to hand in your work because it’s really easy to feel like it’s not ready yet. There have been many times when I have agonized over whether a blog post, piece of sales copy, or a new class was actually ready for consumption and many times I’d get stuck in analysis paralysis. Then, I took a second to remember what I’d tell those students who were worried about not being done:
“If you don’t know the answer now, you won’t magically know it with a few more minutes.”
This is so true. Whatever you’re creating is always going to feel unfinished or not ready. I’ve described this to some of my past clients as “polishing the car, but never driving it.” It’s easy to look at something that you have to write or develop and say that you are not ready to launch. But if you wait too long to launch, you’ll just sit there forever.
Get stuff out there and let your audience decide. The people who choose to read your content are the ones who are going to grade it and another day or another few minutes isn’t going to transform your work into genius. Be a producer of content and you’ll get further than most people who dream about producing it. You may put something out there that may not be well received but that in and of itself is awesome because now you have an opportunity to learn from that feedback and make something better.
So if there is something you are working on today that you have been waffling on, I urge you to stop, put your pencil down, and send that work to the front of the room.
We’re waiting for your brilliance and the bell’s about to ring.