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Perfectionism, Rewired.

Perfectionism, Rewired.

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.  

 

REACH OUT

  • 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.    

Getting Unstuck – Pushing Through The Fear

Getting Unstuck – Pushing Through The Fear

Afraid of everything… that was me growing up. I was always scared of the monster under the bed or in my closet. I never wanted to be out in the dark… fraidy cat.

As I began to think about my life and ponder how to approach the topic of “Getting Unstuck-What is Holding You Back,” I discovered that I have addressed this issue many times and have come a long way!

I was divorced and on my own for the first time at 41 years old. Surrounded by memories and not sure how I was going to move forward, I made the monumental decision that I was going to leave Mansfield, my best friends, my home, and my parents to create a new life for myself. Excited, petrified and determined, I found a job and an apartment and began a new life in Columbus not knowing anyone but determined that I would make it. So, my puppy dog, Jasper, and I moved on April Fools Day to begin our new life!! Many people told me I was crazy to do this, but the fear of “Being Stuck” was more significant than fear of failure!

Adapt and succeed

Being the only person I could count on to keep a roof over our head was frightening at times but also pushed me to work harder and succeed. My first position was with the Placement Service I enlisted as a means of securing a job in this new city. It was fascinating and I met a lot of really nice people. About 18 months in, the company announced that we would no longer be using paper files. We would have everything on a computer for easy access. Panic set in! I had never used a computer and had no idea how to do so. My dilemma was to either learn how to use the computer or get a new job. I learned so that I could continue with this company. I never realized that this knowledge would open up a whole new world for me!

I was at my first position in Columbus for almost three years, when introduced to the General Manager of a company where a wonderful new friend worked. They were looking for an Administrative Assistant. I got the job and proceeded to work my way up. As our division grew, my responsibilities changed. When downsizing closed our division, I was the Divisional Office Manager and the “right hand” to the Division President. I loved my job, and at eight years, I would have stayed forever! So… here I go again. Terrified but determined, I decided to try something totally out of my comfort zone (which seems to be the place that I find myself in most often). I was hired as the Showroom Manager for a blind and drapery company. What was I thinking?

I had no experience, no idea what I was doing, but was determined not to allow fear to hold me back. (Noticing a Theme in My Life?) Four years into this position, a wonderful old friend called me to ask that I come and work with her. I became the Assistant General Manager for a Co-Working Company. When she left the company, I took over the helm which was way out of my comfort zone, but, with support from my boss and clients, we moved ahead.

Fear was weighing me down

Let me share a secret; I had this enormous fear of walking into a room full of people and not knowing anyone. I wasn’t much better when I knew I had someone waiting for me. My dad always encouraged me to go into sales, but I knew that would never happen. Fear is a powerful deterrent.

Six months into my position as General Manager, the company decided that I would be required to go out into the community to make our company name known to all! I was determined that I could not allow fear to hold me back. So, I walked into the Hilton Polaris; a networking event with 500+ people, not knowing if I would recognize anyone. The moment I pulled open that door and stepped through changed my life. I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. A weight, I carried most of my life.

20 years later, I moved back to Mansfield and became involved in the downtown area and all the exciting growth taking place.

Confidence overcomes fear!

As my life continues, I still have to walk through doors not knowing what I will encounter, but now I have the confidence to handle anything that comes my way!

So… Getting Unstuck, What is holding you back? Mine was fear of the unknown. What is yours? Once you face that fear and realize that it does not control you any longer, there is not going to be anything you cannot do. Believe in the Power of You!