It has been a long time since I have written a blog. By blogging standards (and a somewhat dose of tough love from a well respected editor), I know this is is bad. This may not get read by anyone, but to be perfectly honest, the point of this blog is not about the number of readers.
What’s more embarrassing is that I asked my lovely tribe for topics back in May, just before Mothers Day. Then there was radio silence. For that, I am sorry.
My life imploded on Mothers Day
The “happy family” image that I was desperate to protect dissipated. The realisation that my partner and I prioritise differently became glaringly obvious, and the environment which I wanted for my children did not exist. Coming from my own divorced family, I had envisaged a family unit made of “happily ever afters” children with both parents together.
Projecting perfection was keeping all of us paralysed in a less than ideal environment – staying that way would be failing the kids, wasn’t the goal to do the best by them? What was I going to do with this tiger?
So why do we stand frozen, knowing that action is required, knowing that inaction is a sign of inauthenticity?
Don’t move and the tiger won’t eat you
But you won’t tame the tiger either… Or have any good stories to tell about being able to get your family out of the cave. Or develop any skills for fighting the next tiger to hand on to the next generation. Guarantee, staying frozen is not going to help you build any resilience, and its certainly not going help you move out of the tiger zone.
If anything, chances are you will be the victim of your environment, not the victor.
Fears are designed to keep us safe
Yep. That’s right. The amygdala is a part of our brain that gets triggered as a response to fear of danger. Incredibly useful when dealing with life threatening situations. When freeze, flight or fight is very much needed to ensure we physically survived. In the wild. Or to stop us stepping in front of a bus.
So with no tigers around, how do we overcome perfection paralysis?
Where is your perfectionism mindset coming from?
Most likely, if you get to the root, the indecision or lack of action will stem from a “fear family”, and be one of the following:
- Fear of Judgement (Others will judge my efforts – what if they aren’t good enough)
- Fear of Failure (If I don’t deliver 100%, it is a failure)
- Fear of Success (I will be responsible for more than I am now – eek!)
- Fear of Rejection (What if no one likes/reads/eats/speaks/connects with my work)
How to overcome your perfectionism and fears
These are a few of my tips to deal with fears when they come to take up residence in my head.
1. Acknowledge your fears.
Recognise that you are dealing with a fear, and that it is attempting to keep you in a safety zone. Flight/fright or fight responses come from the reptilian brain, and are really helpful in keeping us safe from bears eating us or stepping in front of a bus, but they are not so helpful if they are holding us back from playing bigger in business and in life.
2. Rationalise your fears of having to be perfect.
Ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen to you in your life, and on a scale of 1 – 10, where does this sit. Also remind yourself of when you have done something brave – no matter how small – this is track record that you can back yourself.
3. Identify what you can learn from being brave.
By stepping in to your fear what can you learn? In the long run, will the action help you to develop? You can pretty much always learn something from being brave, and you never know- you might just surprise yourself and land that client, get that house, or run that extra mile (hopefully away from a bear, unless its a koala – they are too lazy).
4. Step into it that fear.
Action is the best antedote to fear. Yes, it will feel like you are jumping off a plane at times, and yes when you look back the tiger will seem much more like a pussycat. I certainly remember leaving the safety zone of a nice corporate life to go after my own business and how I wanted to live my life feeling like a massive freak out. Years on, I’m happy to say it’s all working out pretty damn well.
5. Give yourself permission to be you.
Your values are a great compass, and if you are not honoring them, it will show up. Be brave, have courage, and build that self belief.
So what’s the point of overcoming perfection?
Trying to project perfection can paralyse your personal progress. It is much better to pursue authenticity, and be brave in doing so. Be vulnerable. Be 100% you.
The jig is up. My family is fractured from the “perfect family structure.” At least now I am being authentic. At least now, I am facing my fears and being 100% open and honest.
I am hard working. I am driven. I love my children. I love helping others create positive change and leverage the crap out of their time and their talents. I believe in living a life where you define your own success. And I am incredibly flawed. As a matter of fact, I just burnt steamed veggies while writing this blog, and judging by the cauliflower cheese, I used the wrong flour (Its good more puff than P.Diddy in the 90’s).
My life is not perfect. It never has been, nor will it ever be. Yet, I will keep learning, and keep trying.
That is the beauty of life. Accepting its flaws, its challenges, learning from them and still chasing after your “why”, your “purpose” and making a conscious choice to step into fears despite knowing that you might fail.
But you might just learn something, pivot and improve it for the next time.
Related: How to fail forward with your goals
With gratitude (& a side of badly cooked veg)