I find perfectionism to be an interesting thing.
On one hand it’s about excellence – we want to do great work. We want to create amazing results for our clients. We want to bring our best to any situation. These are all good things to strive for in business.
But perfectionism can also be the thing that stops us and is a very common form of resistance or self-sabotage.
In my experience, when I’m stuck in perfectionism it’s often masking a fear of making a mistake.
“What if I mess up and they think less of me?” “What if I let them down?” “What if I’m not as smart/talented/awesome as they think I am?”
These are the kind of fears that can trigger shame and make us feel like we aren’t good enough. Ooof.
If we are someone who gets caught up and stuck in perfectionism, what do we do about it?
I don’t think it’s as easy as just saying “well there is no such thing as perfect, so just do it anyways” or “done is better than perfect”. Those things are true, but they aren’t helpful when deep down inside we are terrified of making a mistake and letting someone down.
What if instead, we worked on becoming better at making mistakes?
One of the things we talk about in our Certified OBM community is ‘the big mistake’. Meaning that all of us at some time will make a big mistake – it’s inevitable. (Mine was deleting an ENTIRE client website that wasn’t backed up anywhere – eep!)
The most important thing about making a mistake is how we respond to it.
- Do we take ownership of the mistake and look to fix it or make it right?
- Or do we run, hide, or try to blame someone or something else for the situation.
When I deleted that client website, I took ownership of rebuilding the entire thing. And even though the client was slightly annoyed it had happened, in the end it was totally fine because I fixed it.
I can tell you from experience on both sides of the coin – as both client & service provider – that ownership is what really matters. 99% of the time your clients will be fine with any mistakes that happen, so long as you take ownership of fixing it and looking to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
In other words, if you become good at responding to mistakes – taking ownership – then perfectionism no longer has to be the goal. It no longer has to be the measuring stick you use to decide whether or not you are doing a good job (and we all know, when we measure ourselves to perfection we will never measure up.)
Instead, the goal becomes “am I someone who is willing to take ownership for any mistakes?” Even when it sucks and feels uncomfortable. Even if a part of you does want to run and hide. (I thought I was going to barf when I had to tell my client about deleting that website!)
And strangely enough, as we take ownership and become better at responding to mistakes… perfectionism may no longer have such a strong hold over us. We know mistakes will happen and we know that we will take ownership of it and take care of it. <– That is what really matters.
Here’s to making mistakes! And being OK with it. 😉