I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have suffered from trying to be perfect. I want my client or donor documentation to be perfect. I want my taxes to be organized perfectly. I want my language and marketing to be perfect. In fact, I can distinctly remember back to my high school prom and how I needed my hair and makeup to be perfect.
No matter how many times I course correct after realizing that perfectionism has seeped in to my day-to-day, it keeps coming back to check in. Almost as if to say, are you feeling confident enough today? Are you overcoming your fears? Are you really sure that’s good enough to put your name on?
Why have I so often allowed this belief that I need to be perfect steal my time and attention? What did I believe would happen if things were not perfect, but good enough?
Perfectionism stems from having a need to control things. A desire to know exactly how and why things unfold the way they do. A need to be absolutely 100% certain of a specific outcome. It has to do with seeking external approval, but also internal. Proving that I am “good enough” because deep down there is a fear that if I am not perfect, then it’s not enough. I will never succeed.
After reading Tara Mohr’s book, Playing Big, I realize a lot of these behaviors stem from the “be a good girl” attitude that is bestowed upon many young girls and women. Be polite, do your homework, get good grades, don’t talk back. In fact, we (women) grow up learning exactly how to follow the rules so we don’t “get in trouble”. We are rewarded for good behavior, and celebrated when we get good grades.
What it creates, however, is this fear that if I don’t do all the homework and readings and adequate preparation (because perfectionism is perfect for scoring well on tests) I will fail. In a big way. Perfectionism sucks the spontaneity and intuitive thinking out of running a business and going for big goals. It’s impossible to know what the outcome will be, and all I can guarantee is that I am willing to work hard and take chances.
But that little voice continues to creep up and remind me that maybe, just maybe, I haven’t done enough work to put myself out there in a big way. And, just like every single time before, I continue to push back and tell myself that yes, I have. I am ready.
Have you suffered from perfectionism? When does it show up in your life? What do you do to fight it?
Amanda is a purpose-driven entrepreneur on a mission to humanize the workplace. She helps purpose-driven scaleups to create an empowering, high-engagement culture that inspires individuals to show up with passion, purpose, and creativity every day.
She also works with badass humans to activate their courage and take their personal and professional lives to the next level.