Early in my professional career (think 20-something), I tried to constantly figure out the best pathway to success, to advancement, to soaring, to being AMAZING! Being a competitive, driven person, I wanted to figure out the “formula” so I could win….Back then I used to think, that to be a truly successful leader (and person) that I needed to make all the right moves, not “swing for the fences” and then miss…Pretty much, I thought I needed to be perfect…..or nearly perfect in my approach, my deliverables, my outlook, my relationships….everything….(are you tired yet, just thinking about it?). As a younger leader, I was very aware that people were counting on me to lead them, guide them, mentor them, make tough decisions, and be their leader. I wanted to be the ideal leader, and I wanted to do it perfectly!!.
One of the many mistakes I made then, (and still struggle with some) was that I thought I had to solve their problems and be able to “fix it” or come up with a great solution. From that mentality I leaned way too hard toward seeking perfection and expecting that of myself and everyone else. Honestly, I’ve always felt like my life and work would be SO much better if I could always navigate tough situations well, always come up with a great solution, never lose my cool, never lose my keys, and never forget ….anything. I wanted to be perfect. Seriously! I did…..I know, I know….that’s not realistic since we all are flawed and fall short of others expectations (and maybe our own expectations also)
It’s those times that I have to take a breath, remind myself that I can always pursue excellence in what I do. At the same time, everyone makes mistakes, everyone falls short. Perfect isn’t a realistic goal in life. Only one time in history that that has happened.
However, what IS achievable is to be in the moment, be where you are, be with those you are with, and offer up yourself and the strengths that you DO have, to make their work and life better. Did you catch that? Use your abilities to make someone else’s life better. The focus is on THEM, not me. I’ve found when my focus is on others, and not myself, then I am not near as likely to be worried about being perfect. Why? Because I have realized that they don’t need me to be perfect, they just need me to be human. I was putting the perfection thing on myself so that I didn’t feel “less than”.
I often say that I am a “recovering perfectionist” because I still have that tendency and have to focus on not getting hung up on my perfectionist expectations. It’s those moments of temptation, where I need to look in the mirror and remind myself that today, my best…is enough. Maybe you have felt that way too? If so, tell me about it and offer suggestions on how you navigate this part of our imperfect journey called life.