Showing posts with label Perfectionism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Perfectionism. Show all posts

Thursday, May 26, 2016

How I Recently Overcame the Need for Perfection

In his LinkedIn Riches course (which I highly recommend), John Nemo suggests you create a head-shot “About Me” video introducing yourself and place it at the bottom of your LinkedIn Summary section. It’s a terrific way for people to get to know you better because they can watch you describe the type of work you do, the audience you serve and what you offer.

When I heard about this idea, I thought it would be fairly straightforward. Boy, was I wrong!

I wholeheartedly agreed with his recommendation but kept putting it off. I had all kinds of excuses…It would be a hassle to set up the lighting, microphone and camera…I wasn’t sure what kind of message would resonate with my current and potential connections…I was concerned about how I’d come across.

All that thinking boils down to fear that the video (and therefore, I) would fall short of the ideal. Of course, this “ideal” was something that I had conjured up in my head and did not exist in reality.

My procrastination was a form of PERFECTIONISM.

For me perfectionism means having ridiculously high standards and being afraid to take action due to a fear of failure or criticism from others.

I realized that I was holding myself to standards that I would never think to impose on anyone else.

I finally took the plunge and made the commitment to get the video done immediately.

I like planning and structure, so I drafted a script that would serve as my guide. Unfortunately, I did not USE it as a guide. I actually tried to memorize the whole thing and practiced it numerous times to get the words and tone right. Not a good idea!


I enlisted my husband Lee to set up the lighting and use his camera to record the video. He is a mechanical genius, so that was smart teamwork.

When I did earlier headshot videos a few years ago, I recorded them by myself. I didn’t anticipate how self-conscious I’d feel with Lee standing behind the camera. I got distracted by thoughts of him evaluating me as I spoke (totally unfounded since I know how much he loves me) and forgot what I wanted to say next, so I had to stop and restart several times.

Another reason I stumbled over my lines was due to trying to recall and repeat the script verbatim instead of speaking from the heart.

Then we ran into technical challenges with the camera. No problem. Lee has a second one. Ha! We had issues with that one, too. That meant stopping so he could investigate the problems.

By the time he was ready, we were both mentally tired and decided to postpone the shoot until the next day.

Day 2 – SUCCESS!

The next morning I got up early so I could process the events of the previous day and figure out how to ensure a smooth recording this time.

Thinking and reflecting worked.

I had 3 insights that gave me just what I needed.

1. I realized I was taking this project WAY too seriously!

That was a huge ah-ha. When we’re in the middle of something we’ve deemed important, we tend to take ourselves very seriously – and expect the same from others.

I committed to having FUN so I could enjoy the preparation and recording process.

Big thanks to Jason Goldberg and Steve Chandler for their inspiration to take a more playful approach to everything in life with their writings and The-Not-So-Serious Life Web TV show!

2. I took a few minutes to visualize myself being relaxed and confident in my delivery.

I knew what I wanted to communicate. I just needed to calm down and remember that I was connecting with one person at a time, just like in a 1-1 conversation.

3. I gave up memorizing the script and simply outlined the key points I wanted to make.

This approach allowed me to focus on the natural flow of my words and allowed me to speak more smoothly.

I’m happy to report that I was able to record the video in the FIRST take that morning.

It’s now in my Summary section, and I’ve included it below in case you’d like to see how it turned out (3:19 minutes).

Leave a comment and let me know if you’ve ever had a project that you took too seriously and what you did to get past your fears to complete it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Problem with Over-Preparing

Some people I know jump right in with both feet when they’re presented with an opportunity. They say YES and don’t worry about how they’re going to do it. They’ll figure it out later.

I admire that approach, and I've done the same thing myself at times.

When I started my first company in 1982, I didn't know anything about running a business. I came from the field of education, and I had no classes or experiences that taught me how to market and sell. I just had a strong desire to make a drastic change due to the pain I was experiencing in my job.

Over the years, I've also agreed to take on leadership roles outside of work, where I wasn't sure exactly what to do. But I had confidence that I could learn what was needed in order to become competent in the position.

And I could list other examples.

But they wouldn't highlight an issue that’s gotten in my way more times than I’d like to admit – and maybe it has for you, too.

Once I take on a new project, I can get caught up in “over-preparing,” trying to make sure I get things just right first, before getting started. Ever do that?

Maybe you think you need to do more research. There’s data you don’t have. Or you want to benchmark what others have done. Or you don’t feel confident or qualified, and you believe you’ve got to learn more.

It’s easy to convince yourself of the importance of being prepared. After all, “Be Prepared” has been the motto of the Boy Scouts of America for decades. But sometimes it becomes a rationalization that keeps you from taking action and developing momentum.

In essence, excessive preparation is a form of procrastination.

Underlying your attitude and behavior is likely one or more fears, such as the fear of failure, fear of looking foolish, fear of criticism, or fear of rejection. These fears can paralyze you. You’re so focused on the potential negative consequences of your actions that you convince yourself it’s not time to begin.

And so you don’t. You allow your self-doubts and fears to dominate your thoughts and keep you stuck. Even though you’re busy explaining your lack of action to yourself and others as a necessary part of “getting ready.”

How do you move past these excuses?

1. Make a decision. That’s right. You first have to decide that you’re going to take the action you need to take, no matter what.

2. Take the first step. As Steven Pressfield advises in his brilliant book, Do the Work:

“Don’t prepare. Begin.”

Just get started. You may make mistakes. In fact, your first attempt may be a total failure. But it’s not the end of the world. With each additional step, you can learn and make corrections or improvements.

3. After each action, reflect. You will accelerate your learning – and your results – if you take time to think about what happened after you complete each step. Answer these five questions (which are part of our ProStar Coach personal development program) to help you analyze your actions and make the most of the experience:
  1. What happened?
  2. Why did it happen that way?
  3. What were the consequences?
  4. How would you handle a similar situation in the future?
  5. What will you do not to implement this learning in your life?
Get past the need to over-prepare, and you’ll experience the profound benefits described so eloquently by the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

"The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way."