Perfectionism is defined as the tendency to set unrealistically high standards for performance of oneself and others, along with the inability to accept mistakes. This quote below is what I like to think of as the antidote for the paralysis of perfectionism.
“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly, until you can learn to do it well.” - Zig Ziglar
In a leadership culture we are taught to do things with excellence. The harsh reality is, no one ever does anything for the first time with excellence. Excellence and being perfect at doing a specific thing is something that is acquired through a series of events called trial, error and repeat until done right. A perfect performance is the result of imperfect practice. Don’t let perfectionism paralyze you from taking the next steps you need that will eventually cause you to march your way into greatness.
A perfectionist usually doesn’t want to do anything unless they can do it perfectly and with excellence. While they’re on the sidelines thinking, calculating, planning and waiting to do it perfectly, others are already on the field of life learning from experience.
When you’re stepping out of your comfort zone and endeavoring to do something new in your life or business, just know that you probably won’t do it right the first time. Chances are you won’t do it right the second, third, fourth, fifth or even sixth time. I could go on and on of the number of times you will feel like you’re not measuring up. You will never have everything figured out exactly. That’s OK. Remember that you will get better the more you keep practicing. Take a deep breath. Embrace trial and error and eventually find yourself doing it perfectly.
Here are three keys that can help you overcome the tendencies of perfectionism that could be stopping you from reaching your goals or dreams in life.
1. Embrace failure.
You are going to make mistakes. You are going to fail at doing something new. That’s perfectly OK to fail. What’s not OK is when you stop. You must learn to get over the fear of failure if you are ever going to do anything great.
Don’t let a temporary failure stop you from creating a permanent success. You must keep pushing no matter what. Failures have the ability serve as great teachers along the journey, but we must quit looking at failure as having the last word. It’s time to change your perspective and let your failures teach you to be wiser and smarter, because there is a future beyond your failures.
Have you ever heard of a man by the name of Milton Hershey? Of course you have. He is the creator of Hershey’s Chocolate. I’m sure you’ve had one of his candy bars or the famous Hershey’s Kisses before. You know his chocolate is delicious, but what you might not know is that Milton Hershey had two failed businesses before he got on the right track of successfully coming up with the milk chocolate treat that millions of people enjoy today. He wasn’t distracted by his failures. With each failure came more wisdom and knowledge for his next attempt. His perseverance finally paid off, and now the world indulges in the fruit of his labor—or should I say the chocolate of his labor.
What a great story of someone that embraced their failures instead of fearing them. So get up, dust yourself off, and keep moving forward. Every successful person is acquainted with failure. The difference is that their failures never distracted them from reaching their dreams.
"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth
2. Don’t worry about the opinions of others.
Many people procrastinate all because of the fear of the opinions of others. They spend all of their emotional and physical energy trying to be perfect because they care way too much about what other people are going to say or think about them. Make no mistake about it; you will be bombarded by the opinions of family members, friends and even co-workers. You must remember that everyone is entitled to have his or her opinion. However, when you worry about those opinions, you fall into the trap of trying to make things perfect. This will only lead you to being stuck on the hamster wheel of perfectionism.
If you want to make progress and move forward, then you have to make a decision to not let the opinions of others control you. Don’t waste anymore emotional and physical energy over something that you have no control over. You can’t control people’s opinions, so quit letting them stop you from moving forward. Be bold and courageous regardless of what others are saying. Take the first step and learn through your failures and mistakes along the way.
3. Try something new.
This is a good thing to do, especially if you tend to struggle with being a perfectionist. It’s time for you to get out of your comfort zone. When you make it a habit of trying something new, it forces you to face the tendency of trying to be perfect. It’s hard to be good at something you’re trying to do for the first time. This will help you learn that you can still enjoy something that you are not good at in the moment. It helps you see that it’s OK to not be perfect at something.
Take some time to make a list of some new activities that you can try. Remember to choose activities that are outside of your comfort zone, or something you’ve never done before so you will be forced to face your perfectionist tendencies. Once again, this will help you push past the need to be perfect and will allow you to build a habit of not caring what others will think as you fail your way to mastering this new activity.
Don’t let perfectionism keep you stuck any longer. There’s so much that you could be doing with your time other than spending countless hours trying to be perfect at something before you even do it.
Whatever it is, just step out and take the risk and do it. Don’t try to figure everything out and make it perfect. Free yourself from the bondage of perfectionism and get ready to enjoy the fruit of your labor. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to learn from your mistakes and failures. Everything is a process. Remember that you are on a journey, and the longer you stay committed to the journey, then eventually perfection will come.