A few years ago this would have petrified me. I felt I was strong BECAUSE of my perfectionism. Now I know I was strong DESPITE my perfectionism. Let me tell you why.
Ever since I was a kid I loved going to school. I was a good student and was praised as such. All through school and college I proudly called myself a perfectionist. Being diligent, stringent, and extremely detail oriented. Favoring quality over quantity, preferring to work alone, holding myself to high standards, and working in a structured and organized manner; those were just some of my perfectionistic tendencies.
I convinced myself, my habits of perfectionism were the reasons of my achievements. Up until I entered the workplace that is. All those tendencies and impulses ended up getting me nowhere. All the things I was good at didn't matter anymore.
Quickly, I realized two things:
1. I needed to get another job where my talents weren’t wasted; and
2. I had to let go of my perfectionism. (And I did.)
My perfectionism didn’t help me anymore. In fact, it was just the opposite. It hindered me from being successful. What made me successful in the past were my diligence, determination, and hard work. They are my true talents.
Despite, my college years weren’t exactly successful. My fellow students only saw the perfectionist shield I had put up. It stopped me from making authentic connections and friendships. Perfectionism was the shield I used to stop people seeing what was really going on in the inside.
Fast forward to a few years later when I started my business. I had been working on my website and products for a little over two months when I felt myself backsliding into perfectionism. That perfectionistic, fearful voice in my head started rearing its ugly head. Luckily I’d learned my lesson a few years before.
I could have worked on my business forever: fine tuning, tweaking, obsessing over minor details that no one else would notice. But I disregarded my anxious feeling, started my business, and took it from there. That was scary. My perfectionistic-self was not happy, but it was the best decision I ever made.
HERE ARE THE LESSONS I LEARNED ABOUT PERFECTIONISM AS A BUSINESS OWNER:
DO IT ANYWAY
Do it. Put yourself out there. Be entrepreneurial. Experiment's are crucial in learning how to make a distinction between intuition and fear.
Whenever you feel yourself on a crossroads or have to make a difficult decision in your business, what happens? Do you have anxious thoughts disguised as reason? Or can you tune into the calm, authoritative voice inside of you? Do you get into the perfectionism reflex? Or do you instinctively know what to do in that situation?
Your body sends you warning signals.
When you respond to a challenging situation in a fear-based, perfectionistic way, you’ll feel rushed and/or shallow breathing. Instead, if you respond by listening to your intuition, you’ll find that you're calm and grounded.
CREATE NOT PROCRASTINATE
Let me get one thing straight: perfectionism is not the same as striving for excellence. When you’re striving for excellence you have a clear vision with goals in mind and are steadfastly working towards your goals and vision.
Perfectionism is fear-based behaviour and it hinders growth and achievement.
Perfectionism is basically sugar-coated and socially-accepted procrastination. Don’t get sucked into it. Don’t let fear or procrastination hold you back from creating stellar products or offering amazing services.
BE OPEN ABOUT YOUR STRUGGLES
When I did my first Periscope I shared about my perfectionistic tendencies and that it made me anxious. I also shared I have a slight stutter and when I stutter I’d just forge through. Again, the response was overwhelmingly positive.
I learned what you fear most will actually make you more relatable, authentic, and human. Clients and customers see your courage and good intentions and forgive you for tiny mistakes.
VULNERABILITY = GOOD
There’s no growth, both personal growth, and business growth, without vulnerability. I’d rather do what I set out to do and feel vulnerable than give in to the fear of perfectionism. I’d rather be courageous and try something than give in to perfectionism and never put myself out there.
Reframe failure as a learning opportunity.
The perfectionistic habit still creep in every once in a while. I still feel vulnerable sometimes and I guess that’s part of being a business owner. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Letting go of perfectionism was the best thing I ever did. In the end, my business saw the light of day because of it.
Share in the comments below: What is your perfectionist story?
Wendy de Jong is a recovering perfectionist on a mission to help fellow hardworking, passionate, perfectly imperfect women embrace imperfection and leave behind their stressed-out, unfulfilling lives. Book-oholic, Scandal-obsessed, beach aficionado. She missed last week’s Scandal episode (gasp!) to create a FREE printable checklist that you can whip out whenever you feel yourself backsliding into perfectionism.