Are you a Perfectionist?
Perfectionism is something I and others say that I am! Recent 360 feedback derived from my own and others responses to a systemised survey clearly showed alignment with this trait.
No drama I thought, it just means that everything I churn out will be of high quality!
Actually, in speaking with my mentor I soon realised that my perfectionistic trait was potentially holding me back. That my version of quality output may not be the same quality or expectation of someone else, that frankly someone else could be seeing an overcooked and untimely me that just didn’t meet with their expectations.
Just like with anything else of this nature I decided that I had to understand this more. I took to Twitter with a few tweets about perfectionism, whether it was good or bad in others eyes. The response was mixed, some people said the same as me, ‘at least you’ll know the job is done right and your output will be quality’ while others said the opposite, the very same response my mentor gave to me ‘perfectionism will limit you and potentially hold you back, it can hinder your ability ‘to do’ or to deliver output and for the most part it can serve to lose you time’ I can see both sides of this but what was almost more concerning was the mention of the word ‘control’
Being a perfectionist with my own work tasks is one thing but then being a perfectionist as a leader of a fairly large team could easily rub off on some or all of them. My need to control out-put, maybe my constant need to check important email content that was due to perhaps go to a Senior Leader or my constant review of the communications articles that will be released to 2500 employees is actually hindering the team and the individuals within it. Could my manner be hindering them ‘doing something’ I also now believe that It can stop people thinking for themselves, stop them from trying something and learning from the outcome, positive or negative. It slows them down as much as it slows me down because we’ve both got extra checking and amending to do and actually, above all else, maybe it is seen by them as me distrusting them and their capability (of course that isn’t even entering into my thought process)
Letting go of such control is hard. For me the root-cause of me behaving in this way is fear of failure and me not wanting either the team or I to be perceived as incompetent. However, I had never considered that the opposite perception could be that my level of perfectionism and control creates delays and a level of seriousness that far exceeds need.
It was only last week when I truly realised that perfectionism can hold one back. I was watching an episode of ‘Dragons Den’ where an entrepreneur had pitched and was being questioned about why they had such a great product but hadn’t done much with it for over 3 years. The response hit it home, the entrepreneur said ‘because I’ve not got everything perfect yet before I release it to the world’ The response being ‘nothing is ever perfect in business, especially in the beginning. Products, business and people evolve over time but can only do so when those in charge actually ‘do something’ and then of course learn from what works and what doesn’t!
That single conversation suddenly made it all make sense.
You’re reading this article, most likely upon my website ‘Your Vocation’ something that I was holding off launching until it looked perfect. The reason I was holding off publishing it was that if it didn’t look perfect I may be ridiculed or questioned and even appear that I am either unprofessional or that perhaps I don’t know what I am doing.
Gladly, I have taken on board the above and my own advice of ‘just do something’ and worry about perfecting it later. I’ve started it and I will let it evolve.
I recognised that my fear of failing, my fear of ridicule, my perfectionistic nature was stopping me getting this site launched. I was finally consciously seeing that my perfectionistic trait was holding me back.
I always say that feedback is key to permitting progress, positive development and that without feedback ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’
Therefore, what do you think of the website?
What do you think about ‘perfectionism’?
What do you think about ‘just doing something’?
Is there a time for perfectionism? Yes, I still think there is room for it but one must recognise when to strive for perfect and when to ‘let it go’
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