Perfectionism may lead to exhaustion and stagnation, and it can hinder learning and development, impede progress, and cause procrastination, anxiety and stress. But how can you get rid of it?
First you became aware, then you can start to develop
We upgrade our computers once every few years and operating systems and applications every second day. Yet we tend to forget the mindware that operates our everyday lives.
The quality of our communication is not completely in our own hands. How we listen to, interact with and understand others is not just our conscious decision. And even if we’d like to tell ourselves otherwise, we don’t have complete control over our own behavior.
From our childhood until today we have picked up different rules, beliefs and habits which have quite a determining role in defining how we will behave in any given situation. The good news is, that we grow and change throughout our lives. It is possible to consciously affect this mindware. That is why the most important work to develop your communication skills is done by developing your mindset.
Start with these
Many secretly view perfectionism as a good thing. However, this perception is flawed. Perfectionism is not driven by a healthy desire to excel as a professional and produce high-quality work. Instead, at the core of perfectionism lies an incessant fear of inadequacy.
Speakers and trainers often receive very good if incredibly general questions from their audiences. It took me a long time to realise why answering these always felt like grasping at straws and why the asker didn’t always seem very pleased with the answer.
If someone never makes mistakes, it can, in theory, mean that they’re a supreme being alike to an omnipotent god. However, it’s more likely that they’re someone who plays it safe and polishes their work ad nauseum.
If a thought feels uncomfortable, we immediately interpret that to mean it’s a bad idea. Then we come up with logical and rational explanations for why an idea that feels bad is a bad idea. However, we shouldn’t.
Listening requires practice and uses up energy. That’s why it’s a good idea to practice listening for five minutes every day. You’ll get more out of your practice if you choose beforehand which area of listening you’re going to be practicing, with whom and when.
Because we fear that our communication might fail, we panic about our responses, we don’t admit that we don’t understand, we try to be too fast and always right. All of this takes the focus away from the situation and shifts it to ourselves. However, the answer can’t be found within us.
Feeling like the thing we’re doing is sufficiently important is key. It’s not enough to know it’s important; we must feel that it’s important. This is something that a good leader, trainer or therapist can help you with.
The co-founder and co-CEO of Atlassian Mike Cannon-Brookes tells us how Imposter Syndrome has been with him from the beginning of his career and has never eased.
“The central task of psychotherapy with impostors is to lessen the client’s dependence on others’ positive evaluations for his or her self-esteem and to build a more internalized sense of self-worth.”
These too are worth your while
Though we consider ourselves rational and thinking creatures, we have quite a collection of biases and misleading heuristics. It’s necessary to become aware of the weaknesses in our thinking to be kinder and more understanding towards yourself and others. Kahneman, Nobel price winner in economics, will keep you humble.
One of the many unhelpful thoughts, that nests in our head, is that vulnerability is weakness. When in fact admitting and showing your vulnerability makes you courageous, trustworthy and attractive. If you try to live your entire life hiding your vulnerability, you end up not living fully.