The price of perfectionism.
According to author Valerie Young, perfectionists who hit 99% of their goals still feel like a failure. These are the people who are the ones who need to know every piece of information before they can start. I am sure that there are people that are cringing as they're reading this. Even in our mastermind calls, there are people that will say- no- I need to get this thing done perfectly before I can move on to that next thing. They are the ones that who say things like 'I'm not an expert enough to teach people what I know' and that I need to learn more. You need to study more before you can even start to put anything out there. Does that sound familiar? That in essence is perfectionism.
These are the ones that are always looking for new certifications or a new skills to learn before they can go forward. The perfectionist just need that next certificate, that next course or or if they can get this next part just right then I can get started. So in the episode of The Total Life Freedom Podcast, I talked about my book and self-sabotage. Today I'm going to give you a lesson that I learned that forced me to actually finish and publish my book and get over my own perfectionism.
So when I first had the idea of writing a book, I went to different book clubs to learn. I wanted to meet with other authors, to see what they're doing and soak it all in. I was hoping to learn from them, get inspiration for them and maybe possibly help. But I really wasn't sure who or how I could help. This club met a couple times a month. There was this one guy who was always working on the first chapter of his book. The rest of the book had been completed but he could not -and would not- publish this book until the first chapter had the perfect start to it.
In each meeting, we broke down what would be a great introduction for the book. He would blow off most of the ideas, but for the ones that he liked, he decided to try. But in two weeks, he'd come back with a reason why it didn't work. He would get some new ideas and some new inspiration. He'd go back to work and he'd come back and again, there was something wrong. He always had a reason why it couldn't fit. So the entire time that I was in this book club, he was working on chapter one. And according to him, the rest of the book was already written. Back then, I knew nothing about imposter syndrome. I knew nothing about perfectionism, at least from this type of a standpoint, but something about this whole situation felt really odd. So I decided to ask him just one question.
In front of everybody, I asked him how long has he been writing this book. He looked at me very matter of factly. And I saw everybody looking back at him. It was obvious that they didn't know either. So I looked back at him and then he said that he has been writing this book for twelve years. I had forgotten all about that guy until this topic came up for this podcast. And I realized then that he wasn't waiting for the perfect beginning. He wasn't searching for that. He was doing everything he could to sabotage himself because of his perfectionism. So we always looked for a way to delay. In his mind, as long as he found that there's always something better out there that can be written, he didn't have to publish this book. And that was in 2016. And I would put money down that if he's even still in that book club, that that book is still not published.
You have to understand that there are a lot of things that a perfectionist will not do because they don't want to look stupid. They're usually the ones that won't ask questions. They won't speak up as much. They often won't apply for the job. They won't go after their own dream because of the way that they might look if they don't get it. So perfectionists don't ask for help very often because it shows to them, incorrectly, that they look like a failure.
According to Pauline Clance, one of the founders of the idea behind imposter syndrome, perfectionism can lead to two different types of responses. The first one is procrastination. They're going to procrastinate and put off the assignment out of fear because they don't think they can complete a due to the necessary high standards that come with that achievement. And the other thing they do is they over prepare. And it's so easy to see both of these often. Either the procrastination where you do nothing or the over preparation where you do way too much. And author Brene Brown has such an awesome quote on this idea.
"When we spend our lives waiting until we're perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable."We squander our precious time and we turn our backs on our gifts. Those unique contributions that only we can make. Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don't exist in the human experience," Brown said.
And I'll leave you with this quote from Reid Hoffman who's the founder of LinkedIn.
"If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late."
Thanks for reading!
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