How many times you lost an opportunity because you didn’t take action immediately? Because the odds seemed to be against you or because you were unprepared? I know I did this at least a hundred times. I avoided action, because the context wasn’t perfect. Or complete. Or just because it wasn’t the right moment.
Guess what: that perfect moment never came. Instead of doing something, anything, I left that opportunity pass me by. Even more, every time I lost such an opportunity I said to myself: Well, it wasn’t worth anything, since I didn’t found the perfect way to handle it.
Looking back at those situations, I can clearly see now that a single action, any action, as imperfect and incomplete as it may have been, could have made a big difference. Even if that action was initially a mistake, moving things around would have eventually changed the whole context.
And as I advanced in life, opportunity missed after opportunity missed, I realized that what prevented me to take action was a certain idea about being complete. If there was something missing from the context, the situation wasn’t complete enough, hence I couldn’t move forward.
Took me a lot of time to realize that things are already complete, in their inner structure. It was me who wasn’t yet prepared. It was me who was waiting for a perfect setup, a perfect partner, a perfect opportunity. Like waiting to create a masterpiece from a single touch.
And then I realized that the masterpiece I was waiting for was already there too. Every little thing was ok. Just unfinished. The context, the situation, the partner, everything was fine. But incomplete. And just because it wasn’t finished, it didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy it.
So, I changed my approach completely. Although I was aware of the fact that things weren’t finished, I started to enjoy the context as it was. And started to listed to my intuition, letting my actions flow around, even if the overall configuration was skewed. It was my action which was pushing things forward. I didn’t need any perfect moment for that. I created it. Even if I was wrong or incomplete. But at the same time I advanced. I learned. I experienced.
Little by little, I even started to take pleasure in enjoying an unfinished masterpiece. Here are a few of the situations in which you may want to take any action, even if the masterpiece you want to create in that context won’t be completed by that action.
1. Business – A Risk Taken Now May Worth Way More Tomorrow
If intuition tells you it would be a good deal, go for it. Take that risk, even if you’re not 100% sure. There is no such thing as a 100% foolproof deal, especially in business. The market can turn around in minutes, the clients can change their minds in a split of a second and, generally speaking, in business there are no real guarantees. Everything can change. So, a hunch worth sometimes more than 100 classes of Harvard Business School.
I remember that 10 years ago, when I was just starting to build my company, I was talking with an old friend. He told me that in a few months there will be a major solar eclipse, which will be seen only from Romania. Something clicked instantly and the next day I verified if the domain name eclipsa.ro was available. It was. A domain name was around 50 USD at that time (for life) but 50 USD was a small fortune for me.
I had to make a choice. I had 50 USD available but that money was for something else, specifically household expenses. I was living in a studio and I had to pay monthly some fixed expenses like water and so on. I decided to negotiate that payment with the building supervisor hoping to postpone it for the next month and to use that 50 bucks to buy the domain.
It wasn’t an easy thing, the building supervisor was a pain in the ass and I had a pretty tense relationship with him ever since. But after buying that domain, I built the total unofficial site of the eclipse. In a few weeks, the Ministry Of Tourism, which started a campaign promoting Romania through that event, contacted us via the agency that was implementing the program. Guess what: they hired us to make the official website of the eclipse.
It was my first project over $20,000 I bought a beer to the building supervisor from the first installment.
2. Blogging – Leave That Idea Flow Unhindered
If you’re blogging and you just got hit by an idea, follow through it the best as you can right now, for tomorrow it may be obsolete. Too many times I surprised myself delaying some posts, although the underlying ideas were valuable and the topic was hot. It’s too early, let it cook, I said to myself. And most of the time, I didn’t finish those ideas at all.
One episode specifically tied up to this approach was a challenge started from a blogger called Luciano Passuelo, from LiteMind.com. Luciano wrote a post called Solve Any Problem With A List Of 100. And then a blogger friend of mine, Mike King, wrote another one called 100 Ways To Be A Better Leader. In which he challenged me to pick a topic and write my own list of 100.
So, I put it into my task list and decided I will take care of it later. I wasn’t yet prepared to write such a big post. But somehow, even if I felt completely vulnerable, I decided to take the challenge. I postponed a few other posts and immersed myself for 2 weeks in writing 100 Ways To Live A Better Life. It was one of the most challenging blog posts I ever wrote. After that, I wrote another few 100 posts items, and each time was easier than the first time.
The post 100 Ways To Live A Better Life got featured on Delicious in a few hours after was published and created a huge spike of over 20,000 unique visitors. Not only that, but it still remains one of the most visited posts on my blog, with more than 200 visits each day (after more than a year since it was published) and with almost daily retweets.
3. Relationships: There Is No Such Thing As A Perfect Dinner
One thing I learned about relationships is that you’re never prepared. Never. Things and people are just happening into your life and you gotta go with the flow when you feel inspired. Give what you have today, don’t wait for the perfect set up. It may never come.
Five years ago I was driving my car with a girl called Diana, with whom I was just starting to get out. Diana was to become the mother of my second child, Bianca, but at that time I had no idea about that. As we drove through the town, on a February evening, Diana suggested to go see the Black Sea. Just like that. In the winter, to see a place 300 kilometers away from our town, on a week day.
I wasn’t prepared at all. Didn’t have gas, was tired and hungry. But somehow the idea clicked. Seeing the Black Sea on a winter day was something I was always wanted to do. So, I stopped by a gas station, bought some chocolate bars and filled my tank. In just a matter of minutes, we were on the highway.
Took us the whole night, but we saw the Black Sea. Years later, Diana told me that my determination during that context, although none of us was prepared, was something that really drove her to me. After we had Bianca we traveled a lot, both in Romania and in Europe in the same let’s see this right now style. We’re not together anymore as a couple, but we did have a fantastic relationship.
4. Parenting: Your Kid Needs A Dad, Not A Perfect Father
I don’t know if you have kids, but if you do, then you’ll be really familiar with what I’m going to say: it seems that you can never do enough for your child. Everything you do, you say or you provide must be perfect. You care about your child food, clothes, friends, everything. You want him or her to have a perfect life.
A few weeks ago, Bianca, my 4 and a half year old daughter, was invited to a birthday party. It was a boy and I knew Bianca had a little bit of a crush for him. But I wasn’t prepared at all. I was in the middle of my separation from Diana, money seemed to reach my bank account way slower than normal (to be euphemistic) and on top of that I had a lot of work to do.
But I went to the toy store, bought a symbolic gift, put Bianca in the car and went to that birthday. Needless to say that I was the only father among a dozen of mother carefully looking after their kids. Needless to say that I felt a little bit embarrassed about Bianca’s gift. Needless to say that I wasn’t on a perfect setup for that event.
But somehow things started to fall into their places. Bianca was extremely happy and all the kids were having a great time. The gifts didn’t count anymore. Bianca had a ball. And I was happy for that. And now, every time a new interaction opportunity arises for Bianca, like a play date or something like that, I just go with the flow, even if I’m not prepared.
5. Travel – The Best Place In The World Is The One You’re Visiting Right Now
If you love to travel, you know that a good trip is a combination of a gazillion ingredients. The transportation, the scenery, the food, the sites. It’s difficult to have a perfect trip and, most of all, once you’re in a completely foreign country you simply can’t escape the feeling that you’re loosing the best spots.
Let me tell you a story about that. During my first trip to Thailand I was eager to visit as many places as possible. The tourist bulimia, if you know what I mean. At some point, while I was visiting an historical site near Chao Phraya, a small local approached me. In a few words, he told me he will offer me a cruise to the floating market.
I knew that floating market was something I wanted to visit so I said yes. I wen on a long tail boat and after a few hundreds meters on the main Chao Phraya, we entered some side channels of the big river. It was an incredible contrast between the opulence and the touristic side of the main Chao Phraya and those narrow and crowded channels with thousands of houses suspended on pillars.
After I met a small boat with a lady trying to sell me some souvenirs, babbling incessantly floating malket, floating malket, I knew I was scammed. But somehow, that part of the trip, the total unexpected turn of events, the feeling of consistent reality made from that detour one of the most powerful parts of the trip. The best place of a trip is the one you are visiting right now.
Back to our topic, I hope now you realize that you don’t need a perfect setup for enjoying a masterpiece. Because, believe it or not, you are that masterpiece. Exactly, you. A brilliant, yet an unfinished masterpiece.
Enjoy yourself as you are. Don’t wait for a time of perfection, because that time may never come. To be honest, this fascination for a finished masterpiece is utterly morbid and incredibly limiting.
Live what you can, with whom you can, for as long as you can. But live it to the fullest. Even if you’re not the best you can be, even if the other one is not perfect, even if it’s for a much shorter time than you’d want.
Living your life to the fullest is the only way to enjoy your existence as a perpetually unfinished masterpiece.
Because the only moment that masterpiece will be finished is when you’ll die.