I'd like to share a personal story with you about perfection...
Now, I know this topic may elicit some eye-rolls. It brings to mind those moments during interviews when candidates describe perfectionism as their only weakness! But I promise you, it's a real tendency that has deeply influenced my life. So, let me take a moment to open up and shed light on the underlying conflicts and fears that may resonate with you or even spark an "aha" moment.
Lately, I've come across several examples that highlight the impact of my perfectionism. Designing my website, for instance, felt like an extension of myself. I would painstakingly refine every detail, seeking a 95% ready state before sharing it for feedback. However, this approach often backfired as the content would no longer align with the changes suggested by my business and marketing-savvy friends. It resulted in wasted time and effort, reinforcing my need to raise the bar even higher. It left me feeling unsatisfied and annoyed with myself!
Avoiding social media has been another consequence of my perfectionism. I held back from posting, wanting everything to be perfect and knowing that the effort would be time consuming. But how counter-intuitive was this?! In doing so, I realized the greater cost was that nobody truly got a sense of who I was, what I valued, and the type of coach I aspired to be. This pattern even delayed the launch of my first coaching business back in Australia several years ago!
So, why did I keep repeating these perfectionist mistakes?
Launching my recent coaching business has brought to light underlying fears and conflicting values. I discovered that I had been prioritizing self-achievement over personal growth and deep connection. I was determined to do all the development work on my own, believing that achieving solo brought a sense of satisfaction. However, when my self-created expectations weren't met, the fear of judgement—both internal and external—would take hold.
But here's what I've realized:
we are wired for relationships, not heroic individuality.
I'm gradually letting go of my need for perfection and the belief that I must do everything alone. I've come to understand that seeking support doesn't diminish my value; in fact, it clarifies and strengthens it. With this newfound awareness, I'm rewriting my story and empowering myself to move forward, taking meaningful steps toward my goals. I've launched my business and website, even though there's an extensive list of improvements and documents to prepare. I'm now supporting others through coaching and showing up authentically, hoping to inspire those who resonate with my journey.
Reflecting on the cost of perfectionism within a team context, I've recognized how high expectations can disempower team members, stifling their own initiative and drive. I can recall instances where I fell into this pattern as a young leader, and I'm sure many others can relate. It's a recurring theme for some of my coaching clients, and recently, I've made the connection to my own past behaviours through introspective writing.
Now, this doesn't mean that perfectionism is entirely bad. It has shaped me and helped me achieve many things. But I've come to realize that I've overused the value of self-achievement and high standards, neglecting personal growth and the flourishing of teams. So, what else could be driving this?
In a broader sense, our culture often glorifies the myth of heroic individuality—a story I was undoubtedly caught up in. As I reframe my own experiences, I see numerous examples of successful leaders who thrived precisely because they sought and embraced support. They allowed themselves to be messy and vulnerable throughout the process. Their success is rooted in a fundamental relational stance that encourages asking for help. This shift is not only transforming my personal life but also making me a better coach.
Are you caught in a similar perfectionist story? What is the cost of your pursuit of perfection? Or have you already overcome perfectionist tendencies? What have you gained from it?
Have you encountered leaders who achieved success by reaching out for support? Or have you experienced team environments that overemphasized perfectionism? What were the costs?
I'd love to hear your perfectionist story, either directly or in the comments section below!
This newfound practice of seeking support, both big and small, is helping me stretch a new muscle and shift away from the extreme end of the perfectionist spectrum. It takes practice, but the rewards and fulfilment I'm experiencing by collaborating with others are worth it.
I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported me, in ways big and small. You're helping me in ways you may not even realize—although I may have already expressed my gratitude a thousand times over 😉