The Myth of the Perfect Start: Why Modesty Wins in the Long Run

Embrace the power of a humble beginning: Modest starts pave the way for grand achievements through persistence and adaptability

The Myth of the Perfect Start: Why Modesty Wins in the Long Run
Footprints on a sandy beach.
Footsteps in the Sand: Photo by Alex Wigan on Unsplash

Starting a new creative endeavour can feel daunting. We tell ourselves that in order to succeed, we need the perfect plan, professional branding, top-of-the-line tools, and everything figured out ahead of time. Otherwise, how could we possibly compete and gain traction?

This myth of requiring a perfect start holds many creatives back from getting started at all. The pressure for perfection right out of the gate can be paralysing. We end up stuck in a cycle of planning and preparing, never quite ready to take the plunge.

However, the truth is that wild success rarely comes from a flawless beginning. What matters far more is having the perseverance to start small and iterate. Rather than obsessing over perfection, we should embrace starting modestly.

Beginning with humility allows us to learn as we go and make changes based on real-world feedback. It gives us the flexibility to organically shape our direction.

Over time, modest beginnings can compound into something much greater than any elaborate initial launch.

"Embrace the power of a humble beginning: Modest starts pave the way for grand achievements through persistence and adaptability."

In this post, we will explore why perfect starts are often a myth. Embracing modesty and iteration early on is frequently the wiser path.

The Problems With Pursuing Perfection

Pursuing perfection when starting something new may seem noble, but this mindset often holds us back in several ways:

  • Perfectionism leads to overplanning and analysis paralysis. We keep preparing and researching, thinking we're not ready yet. But no amount of planning will ever make you feel 100% ready; at some point, you just have to take the leap. Otherwise, you get stuck in a perpetual planning phase.
  • Investing in expensive tools and professional branding too early can be financially risky. When starting out, it's wise to start small and invest profits back in. Blowing your budget pre-launch on assumptions can lead to financial disaster.
  • Comparing yourself to other creatives who are further along leads to frustration. Remember that everyone starts somewhere, and you shouldn't compare your day 1 to someone else's day 500. Stay focused on your own growth.
  • No business or creative endeavour launches perfectly, assuming yours needs to set you up for disappointment. Understand that mistakes and course corrections are part of the process rather than signs of failure.

The perfection fallacy holds many creatives back from getting started and learning. Remember that the real goal is not perfection; it is progress and iteration. You will grow more by taking action than by endlessly planning for a flawless start.

Fear of failure and judgement drives perfectionism. We wrongly think that if we don't get everything right on day one, we prove that we don't have what it takes. This couldn't be further from the truth—in reality, failing fast and learning quickly is the fastest path to success. The problem is not imperfection, but rather inaction.

Adopting a growth mindset is important here; believe that abilities can be developed through effort. Don't let fear of failure paralyse you.

Many creatives fall into the trap of over-researching tools, techniques, and competitors rather than simply getting started. While preparation is useful, it quickly hits a point of diminishing returns. No amount of reading about swimming makes you an expert; you have to get wet. Focus on implementing what you learn rather than endless consumption.

"Perfection is a journey, not a starting point: Progress and iteration triumph over the illusion of a flawless launch."

The Power of Starting Modestly

Rather than getting stuck chasing perfection, embrace starting modestly. This mindset carries several key advantages:

  • It focuses your energy on progress rather than perfection. You worry less about optics and more about moving forward. Incremental progress compounds.
  • You take on less financial risk by not overspending early on. You can reinvest profits intelligently as you scale, rather than blowing your budget on assumptions.
  • Starting modestly creates momentum. Taking action leads to results, feedback, and organic growth. As you build on small wins, your confidence and capabilities grow.

Don't let the difficulty of starting intimidate you; instead, enjoy the freedom of a modest start. Focus on measurable progress and organic growth. With patience and persistence, small beginnings can ultimately become something extraordinary.

Starting modestly is not about doing the bare minimum; it's about avoiding needless complexity and focusing your energy. For example, an entrepreneur's first product doesn't need to disrupt an entire industry. It just needs to provide real value to a small target audience. Build from there based on what you learn.

Like a solid foundation, modest beginnings set you up for greater things down the road. Early over-engineering can cause needless delays and costs.

Of course, this isn't to say you shouldn't think big about where you want to eventually go. But grand visions are best broken down into smaller milestones. Stay focused on the next small step, not the end destination.

Tips for Getting Started Modestly

Embracing a modest start means taking action rather than endlessly preparing. Here are some tips:

  • Start publishing work and getting feedback rather than holding out to build the "perfect" portfolio. You need real-world input from day one to find your groove.
  • Focus on the 20% of tools and activities that drive 80% of results. Avoid getting bogged down trying to learn everything at once. Stay lean.
  • Allow yourself to be a beginner. Every expert was once an amateur; don't get down on early stumbles. Let yourself learn organically.
  • Celebrate small milestones. Completing your first sale, gaining your first 5 subscribers, and publishing your first video—these small wins build your confidence and momentum.
  • Stay nimble in your approach so you can pivot. Overplanning rigid strategies makes it harder to adapt to feedback and changing needs. Take it step-by-step.
  • Don't compare yourself to established creatives; compare yourself to your past self to see your progress. Your growth trajectory is what matters.
  • Focus on creating value rather than chasing clout. Provide useful content and products that improve people's lives in some way.
  • Leverage existing free platforms when possible rather than reinventing the wheel. You can upgrade later as you scale.
  • Ask for help when needed. Tackle challenges that push you rather than those beyond your current abilities.
  • Review your progress regularly, but don't get discouraged by early struggles. Frustration is part of the journey.

Success rarely follows a straight path. By starting modestly and embracing the journey, you give yourself the space to naturally evolve. Focus on incremental progress, not instant perfection. In time, those small steps can take you to awe-inspiring heights.

Why Mindset Matters

Your mindset has a huge impact on outcomes. Here are some helpful mental frameworks:

  • Maintain optimism and grit. Persevere through obstacles, confident you can figure things out.
  • Embrace curiosity. Always be learning. Experimentation leads to progress.
  • Practice mindfulness. Stay present in each step of the process. Don't get ahead of or behind yourself.
  • Have self-compassion. Be kind to yourself as you build skills. Celebrate how far you've come.

With the right mindset, modest starts become springboards. You're freer to learn when you're less attached to outcomes. Stay open, flexible, and focused on growth.


The temptation to wait for the perfect start holds back many creatives from the very beginning. But the truth is, most great endeavours begin modestly; success comes from having the perseverance to start small and build momentum.

Rather than obsessing over perfection, give yourself permission to start modestly. Focus your energy on incremental progress, not elaborate planning. Invest wisely as you build, rather than blowing your budget upfront. Celebrate small wins and learn from mistakes. Stay nimble and pivot as needed.

Adopt a growth mindset, draw from intrinsic motivation, and persist through challenges. With the right mentality, humble beginnings become launching pads.

No creative journey is a straight line; unexpected challenges and opportunities will arise. By embracing modest beginnings, you give yourself the freedom to take things step by step. Progress compounds, and soon those small steps can take you to incredible heights.

"Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can. Great journeys unfold one step at a time."

You already have everything you need to get started. So challenge yourself today to take action on that creative project, business idea, or passion you’ve been hesitant to begin. Momentum and growth happen when you move. It doesn't need to be perfect; it just needs to start.

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