We pay a high price for perfectionism. “What perfectionism?” we perfectionists mutter. “We’ve known for years perfectionism is not healthy so we have dealt with this issue and strive for personal excellence only!” Really?
When you slip-up – maybe handle a situation, task or project less than perfectly – what do you say to yourself? Are you able to commend yourself on what you did well and perhaps then, note a thing or two you could improve upon? Or do you focus on the mistake or less-than-perfect behavior neglecting your positive efforts?
Recently I completed facilitating six evening “Leadership” sessions. Being only my second time facilitating this particular series I closely observed my “perfectionistic” tendency. As I completed each session I could readily see areas I could have improved upon.
Commend Yourself! Gently Observe Improvements!
For me, it took a huge effort to commend myself on what I had done well and to be gentle with myself on the areas of improvement. In fact, I made a pointed effort of congratulating myself after each session and allowed myself the joy and relief of savoring a job well done when the series of six was completed. This is not a simple, natural process for us perfectionists.
To further this exercise in self-acknowledgement I did not read my participant’s evaluations at the program end as usual. This was perhaps a first in my fourteen years of facilitating. Too often, I have rushed to read the evaluations to determine my success.
Eventually I will receive a summary of the evaluations from the College I was contracted to but more importantly, I have deepened my self esteem and self worth through rewarding, congratulating and commending myself despite what others may think. To be a strong leader and healthy human being let us begin now acknowledging our achievements rather than devaluing our worth and work.
Herein, we begin to wean ourselves from being reliant on outside influences to determine our worth or how well we have done. We begin to befriend ourselves and give the internal “Judge” less power over us.
Not only are we robbed of the enjoyment of our efforts by focusing on what went wrong and neglecting to commend ourselves but also, by rushing into worry over the next thing we have to do. When caught in this repetitive ritual of “not good enough… do better… do more…” I have found this simple phrase very freeing…
Not Perfect but Well Enough!
Feel the relief and comfort of this phrase, “not perfect but well enough!” Yes! Thank You God! “Thank You God” is another simple phrase that can help relieve us of the burden of perfectionism. Not only have I been working on giving myself credit but also on thanking God for His/Her part in my success. I know I must constantly turn to my God, my Source, my Higher Power – call it what you will – for guidance in all I do.
In the perfectionist’s mind it is all up to ME to do everything so very, very well but of course – never quite measuring up. The more I trust that God is working in me and through me the more I can lay down the heavy burden of perfectionism. It is not all up to ME. My job is to “do my best and give God the rest.”
Do My Best and Give God the Rest
Even in the midst of our fear, doubt and inadequacy we can comfort and encourage ourselves by knowing it is not all up to us. We can trust God is also at work and all is unfolding according to a Grand Design far greater than our understanding. As an Alcoholics Anonymous slogan so simply says “Let go and let God.”
We can become better leaders and human beings and release ourselves from the bondage of perfectionism by practicing these few ideas.
1. Commend yourself on a job well done.
2. Be gentle observing your areas of improvement.
3. Remember: “Not perfect but well enough!
4. Do your best and give God the rest.
What a relief to give up responsibility for doing everything AND doing it perfectly!
By John Hester