In my quest to write a perfect blog, while procrastinating with a slight fear of failing before I even get started, I will review with you a couple of ways to look at perfectionism. And perhaps through exploring those with you, I can help you and me identify some things we can both do to address that BIGG or little piece in each of us that may tend to be a perfectionist.
The first definition of PERFECTIONIST I looked up is a person who refuses any standard short of perfection. Other definitions linked it to a personality trait or type that strives for flawlessness and setting up high standards, accompanied by being overly critical of themselves and others. There is a connection between perfectionism and a fear of failure, and a need to be accepted.
I believe one can have high standards without some of the other things that go along with being a perfectionist. Once you have the emotional intelligence to recognize that you have some of the traits or qualities of being a perfectionist, you can work on addressing them for your own good, and the good of people around you, if you choose.
Many of you know that as a trainer and coach, I am a huge advocate of Gallup’s strengths-based leadership research. I love the idea that we need to focus on what’s right with people, rather than what is going wrong. This helps me manage perfection. In looking over Gallup’s 34 top leadership strengths’ “basements,” I found one that has “perfectionism,” and that is the strength called MAXIMIZER. Things like “never good enough” and “always reworking” and “picky” are part of the basement that can happen when you overuse it. It’s a strength I have that can make me a good coach. One that focuses on mastery, success, excellence, and working with the best. One that couples with my value that everyone can do their best, and everyone’s best can be different and EVERY kind and brand of excellence can be valued and rewarded. I believe people are perfect, not imperfect, just as they are.
As a coach, how I manage to keep from falling in the basement of “perfectionism” is that I believe in people and think they know how to solve their issues and move forward in their lives. Sometimes it just takes someone believing in them to help them do it. It’s not my job to tell them what they need to do, nor fix them. I honor and applaud their excellence.
Brene Brown, a well-known research professor, social worker, and five-time #1 New York Times best selling author, would suggest that PERFECTIONISM is a function of shame. Her definition is that perfectionism is a self-destructive belief system that fuels this primary thought – that if I look perfect or do everything perfectly, I avoid or minimize the painful feeling of blame, judgment, and shame.
It’s destructive because PERFECTION is an unattainable goal.
It’s getting sucked into proving I could do something versus PAUSING and stepping back and asking if I should do this, or if I want to do this.
I LOVE PAUSING.
Since my mother’s passing, I have worked a lot on emotional courage – to lean into and feel and identify the emotions I am experiencing, not judge them, but to sit with them and understand them, and explore if other choices could better serve me at some point. What’s the emotion that is behind this feeling of perfection? Am I feeling blame, judgment, or shame? What can I choose to do with it? How can I have a conversation with those I work with or someone who has dropped the ball without blaming, but just to talk about what happened so we can fix it and move on?
MOVE ON. LET IT GO.
How can we wade into our discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about our own stories, those real stories, those that we are not making up? Some of the other things that we can do that Brene and I and others may recommend addressing those areas of perfection that don’t serve us include:
*Say NO, not with an excuse, not with an explanation, just say NO. Set boundaries.
*Talk to ourselves like we would with someone we love. You are human. I am human. We all make mistakes.
As a leader, I would recommend that you HAVE to make mistakes and be vulnerable in front of other people, especially those you supervise so that they know that they can make mistakes too.
- Connect with someone who can respond with empathy and talk to them. Brene Brown suggests that shame cannot survive being spoken. Speak.
- Ask for help. Ask for your supervisor to help you prioritize. Quit picking up more work to do because no one else is. Hold people accountable. Give clear and honest feedback to them promptly.
- Catch people doing things right- celebrate victories and little or big WINS. Focus on gratitude. THANK people more.
- Ask for FEEDBACK from others…and don’t get defensive when you get it. Listen to it. Act on it.
And my favorite:
- Be a BADASS and don’t care what people think. Start “settling” a little bit more. Clarifying expectations is important, but you may need to lower expectations and standards …just because you can…and your expectations are not always reasonable or worth it.
According to Brene Brown, Perfection is the furthest thing from badassery.
Cindy Biggs is a leadership development expert working as a certified coach, mentor, and trainer. She started her encore career in 2012, as President of C. Biggs and Associates (www.SEEBIGG.com) after making a commitment to follow her dreams to be an entrepreneur and focus her top leadership strengths. She was CEO of Planned Parenthood of NC Ohio, based in Mansfield, for 20 years and VP of Organizational Development for 5 years after architecting a 5-way merger in NE Ohio with 4 other women to create a large, regional non-profit, Planned Parenthood of NE Ohio in Akron. Her volunteer work focuses on women’s empowerment and leadership development with nonprofits, including Central America Medical Outreach in Santa Rosa de Copan and the League of Women Voters. She lives in Wooster and Howard with her husband Jeff and cat Colt.
According to Dr. Gary Chapman, we all have a “love tank” inside of us. When the love tank is full, we feel connected, supported, and secure. When the love tank is empty, we feel disconnected, alone, and insecure. But how do you fill someone else’s love tank? You learn what their love language is and you use it to communicate how much they mean to you. It’s equally important that you understand your own love language. This way, you will know how to communicate to your loved ones what it is that you need to feel appreciated and secure.
But what if their language is different from yours? Or perhaps you don’t exactly know what to do with the information? These concerns can create unnecessary stress when it comes time to acknowledge them with a gift or expression of love. No one needs MORE stress in their life. That’s why we’ve used the 5 Love Languages to curate a gift guide that is intentional and reflects each of the languages uniquely.
Words of Affirmation
People with this as their top love language need words to help them feel loved. Choose gifts that make statements and show that you recognize an important aspect of them.
ThoughtFull Pop-Open Cards- Each of these themed boxes come with 30 unique quotes. Stash them throughout their belongings to create a fun and unexpected surprise. Popping open the card is super satisfying and their small size makes them perfect to carry in your pocket or bag.
Write Now Journals- These journals have beautiful and inspirational quotes on the cover and throughout the pages. A lover of words will surely appreciate the ability to keep their own words close by while being inspired by iconic quotes and poems.
The Touch love language is about the physical sensation that comes from a meaningful connection. Pick textural gifts that evoke a strong touch memory of you.
Shawls/ Wraps/Blankets/Pillows- The key here is to find items that have a distinct texture and relate to something they already love. If they love to read in their favorite chair, perhaps a cozy shawl or wrap would be nice. If they love to Netflix and relax – a breathable blanket with some weight can help them unwind, if they’ve recently experienced a significant transition in their life, a weighted heart pillow can provide comfort in times of need.
Sacred Heart Stones – These little trinkets are perfect for a pocket and can easily be retrieved and rubbed with their thumb when they miss you or need to feel comforted.
QT people need you to make time for them. Gift them items that come with a follow-up event or date.
Yoga/meditation supplies + classes: a new yoga mat or bag, perhaps an eye pillow. Commit to attending a class with them by purchasing a class pass in advance.
Books + discussion- Books are great for self-care but you can show your loved ones that you care by reading the same book and making time for discussion. Think about books that reflect their interests or will strengthen your relationship: The Mindful Couple, Awakened Relating, or The Untethered Soul.
Acts of Service
Acts of Service speakers feel loved when you do something nice for them that makes their life easier or better. Think about gifts that will enhance their goals or free up their schedule so that they can pursue the things they really enjoy.
Wellness Kits: Has your loved one been sick? Are they hoping to get healthy in the new year? Gift them a hand-curated wellness kit, complete with bath bombs, handmade soaps, reusable water bottles, wellness patches, etc.
Prompted Journaling- Journaling is incredibly rewarding but busy people may find it to be a chore. Help them reap the benefits of journaling by gifting them a prompted journal such as Calm the Chaos, I am here now, or 52 Weeks of Gratitude.
This language may seem like the easiest one but in fact, can be the most stressful. Gifters are usually excellent at gifting meaningful items to their loved ones so you may feel pressure to make the same kind of effort. The key here is to take note of what brings them joy. Big or small, a meaningful gift will go a long way with this love language.
Unique Finds: trendsetters love a unique find. Think jewelry with a story such as a Mala prayer necklace or a stone bracelet charged in a Sedona energy vortex.
Conscious Living- Think about items that do good in the world: reusable paper towels, glass water bottles, or fair-trade items such as bags and rugs.
Holistic and Mindful Living: gift items that will help them with their practice such as a singing bowl, meditation chime, or a crystal grid.
Take the FREE Love Language Quiz here.
All of the above-mentioned gift ideas can be found at the Butterfly House retail shop. Visit us on Tu-Friday from 10 am – 5 pm or email firstname.lastname@example.org to have a custom gift package put together for you.
Girls Night In:
The Power of Self-Compassion
Mary Kennard is the Director of Creative Services for Mind Body Align, LLC. A Richland County, Ohio native, Mary earned a degree in Art History from Bowling Green State University in 2008, and focused on the development and support of non-profits prior to joining MBA. Always working to break down barriers, Mary strives to elevate wellness for individuals and companies, making it a part of their personal and professional cultures. Kennard oversees all opportunities for creatively engaging clients and designing fantastic educational materials for clients.
Community used to be a nebulous concept for me. Sure, I belonged to communities before now: The writers’ community in Boston, a spiky, jealous, yet reluctantly supportive group of nascent authors. The expat Ohioans living in Washington DC, who spoke exclusively and longingly about the Indians and Great Lakes Christmas Ale. Even the honors dorm in college became a community, where nerds of every stripe unified behind underage drinking.
What does a community look like?
If pressed to give a definition, I would have said community was a group of people united by place, occupation, or interest; ideally it looked something like Sesame Street, but without Oscar the Grouch. A community seemed like a helpful but somewhat archaic thing, much like pay phones and encyclopedias. Surely the collective knowledge of the Internet was really all I needed. It never occurred to me that I may ever want to accomplish something bigger than what I could do alone.
I grew up around Mansfield, Ohio, and left town after high school. After college at Ohio University I spent eight years on the east coast. When I moved back home in 2011, I was broke, discouraged, and above all, lonely. I was surprised and thrilled by the warmth with which I was welcomed into both the artist and downtown communities.
What does a community feel like?
One summer evening, not long after I moved back home, I sat by myself on a bar patio, rereading To Kill a Mockingbird. I was feeling friendless and was pretty low on confidence. Next to me was a string of rowdy tables, packed with people about my age, laughing and enjoying themselves. It wasn’t long before they invited me to join their group, bought me a beer, and became the friends I hold dear as my closest today. Since then, I have tried my best to do the same for other new members of the community. Also, in the years between then and now, I came to learn how community is truly defined, both in words and actions.
Community is not just a physical place, but also an emotional one.
It is composed of a multitude of sometimes very different people working toward a similar goal. It is greater than the sum of its parts. It is a positive zone of thinking, a shared mindset where, no matter how truly annoying your neighbor is, you can work together for the betterment of all involved.
In downtown Mansfield where I work, community means taking care of each other. I had not experienced this kind of community before as an adult: more family than anything. We send our friends and customers to other downtown stores and we all pitch in to keep Homeless Garry warm in the winter. We loan each other our tables, chairs, rock salt, ladders, wine openers, employees, and cars. We joke, we gossip, we give advice.
Now that I feel established, strong, I can help all of us achieve something none of us could do alone: our dreams.
Look around you: who else sees what you see?
Who shares your vision and sees the possibilities you see?
Imagine what you could accomplish, if you had a little help.
Llalan Fowler is a Mansfield native. She has worked as the manager of Main Street Books for five years. She is also the secretary of the Renaissance Performing Arts Board of Directors, a convener for the RCDG Arts Sector, and a founding member of the Mansfield Murals project. She writes the weekly “Downtowner” column for the Mansfield News Journal, the Bookstore Lady Blog on the bookstore website, and a bi-weekly column called “Just Add Beer” for the food and drink blog PitchKnives & ButterForks.