Slay the ‘Perfectionist Dragon’, It Is Best for You and Your Business
I was a whopping four years old when perfectionism reared its ugly head for the first time. I argued with my mum over how to best change my new baby brother’s nappies. I mean, really … Personally, I may have given me up for adoption at this stage, but my parents are much better people than me, clearly.
Perfectionism is an issue that mars most entrepreneurs’ and business owners’ lives, and yet we find it so hard to escape from. Polishing that sales presentation, missing out on sleep/the gym/family time because we ‘just need to finish this one thing’, and trying to do everything yourself. Sound familiar? It sure ruled my life. Because that precocious toddler blossomed into the ‘Queen of Perfectionism’.
But perfectionism is an illusion: nothing can ever be permanently perfect, so as perfectionists we set ourselves up for failure. Not a good course of action. A few years ago, it just got all too bloody much. My perfectionism had made me spread myself too thin and involving myself too deeply. Suddenly, I totally crashed physically, and as a result, mentally it was also a tough ride.
I’m glad this happened, though, because it finally taught me that instead of striving for perfectionism, it’s much wiser to choose to be kind to myself. Easier said than done, but I made it (most days). This is what I’ve learned:
1. Nobody is perfect.
Yes, being thorough is important, but you have to draw the line. It still sends a slight shudder down my ex-perfectionist’s spine, but ‘close enough is good enough’ is actually wise advice. Life changes constantly and we have only limited control over what happens, so ‘perfect’ can only ever be a very temporary state.
2. Ask for help.
The toughest thing for me was to ask for help. If I need help that surely means I’m not capable? Actually, it means I’m now working more cleverly, have more fun and far, far less stress in my life (hurrah!). Distilling what can be outsourced and delegated might take up some initial time, but, boy, is it worth it in the long run.
3. Say, “No”.
Do you say, “Yes”, to every invitation to meet up over a coffee, because you think it’s good manners or networking etiquette? I did. Nowadays I ask, “Why”, more often before committing: Why do they want to talk to me? Why face-to-face? Why now?
Often it transpires that we can help each other after a quick 10-minute phone or Skype chat, and we both saved one to two hours of our respective days. Sweet!
4. ‘Me’ first, everything else second.
Sounds selfish, right? Good. Be selfish for once. There’s nothing wrong with looking after yourself first: your time, your health, your people, your business. Because without you being as well as you can be, everyone and everything around you will be worse off. And running your business will be a hard and stressful slog.
5. Don’t compare.
Our competitors or networking buddies are making it all look so easy, right? You talk to them, and everything seems to be going so smoothly for them! Compare that to the continual fires you’re putting out, and gloom descends. I’ll let you in on a secret. They go through the same issues you have; no one is immune. They are simply not telling because perfect is what society tells us is the only way to be.
Pop out the champagne, take yourself away for a break, or simply acknowledge your successes and wins with a quiet pat on your own back. Perfectionists are good at beating themselves up over what didn’t go according to plan and very bad at seeing just how awesome they are. Go on, live a little, celebrate!
There are many other ways of slaying the perfectionism dragon: simply start by being more gentle and caring to yourself, and you’ll blossom. As business owners, our lives ‘at the top’ can be lonely.
So, backing yourself is the kindest thing you can do for yourself – and for your business.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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