Progress not perfection
This is Athens. It's one of my favourite cities and there's a lot of talk about it becoming one of Europe's 'creative cities'. Some are even calling it 'the new Berlin' even though this isn't overly favoured by the masses. The BBC even asked the question recently.
Athens may not be pretty, and it's not shiny and new. It's old, a little tired but persistent. Because Athens has been moving forward, imperfectly for thousands of years.
This persistence has seen it overcome Nazi occupation, civil war, economic crisis after crisis and more recently, one of the worlds most harrowing refugee issues.
Amongst all of this, Athens is slowly moving forward. Inch by inch. Year by year.
Athens is a creative city at its core.
Contemporary architecture, Arts and culture festivals, digital arts festivals, design festivals, creative communities, hip bars, a barista culture (!), contemporary art, dance and theatre are rife — and the startup culture is heaving.
The young are entrepreneurial and opportunity is in the air.
Other cities may be magazine-cover-perfect, but Athens is progressing in a real and authentic way. Albeit, this article isn't about Athens — it's about creative leaders moving forward.
Like you and I.
Over the last few weeks I have been redesigning the Tank website — rebuilding, redesigning, rewriting. The whole thing. The little man inside my head has been seeking perfection as I've been toiling to have the site finished by the middle of this month.
When I saw this photo of Athens recently it reminded me that I don't have to aim for 'perfect' in the work I do, but rather, progress is something far more important to strive for.
Striving for progress allows me to stop and listen, understand and deliver something quickly. Tom Kelley from IDEO said that 'the faster we put our ideas into the hands of users, the faster we learn, the faster we can improve our ideas.'
Progress allows me to get things done — and as Facebook has told us, 'done is better than perfect.'
And I find all of this a far more inspiring than striving for perfection. Because this striving for something that doesn't exist is damaging and destructive.
Progress means I'm moving forward, perfection is an endgame.
Progress means I'm learning. It also means that I'm sometimes failing — and this is OK too. It means I'm trying, attempting, iterating and evolving.
Perfection is a dead end.
Progress — like Athens — is wonderful.
If you're interested:
1. My all-time favourite blog originated in Athens. Check out Yatzer.
2. This video says it all.