For many people, it’s a point of pride to be a perfectionist. When I was just starting my career, I aimed to reach my highest potential. I decided to do my job perfectly so that my superiors will notice my performance. I realized later that perfectionism is counter-productive. I needed more time to revisit and correct my work. This attitude took away some precious time intended for my family just to put my best foot forward.
Here’s a list of what I did to change my paradigm:
1. I started to take risks.
Risk taking is necessary for one to grow and improve. I must admit that I communicate better in written form. The first time I was made to present to the CEO, my heart was beating at the rate of 180 bpm (normal rate is 60-100 bpm). My opening statement was, “This is my first time to speak before a CEO. I hope I can relay my message well to get your approval.” The CEO replied that I must consider that presentation as my second. The next presentations became easier for me, not to mention that I was one of the presentors during the launching of the new system to the highest official of my country.
2. I used my own ideas.
Following established procedures is safe and organized but this does not give me a room for stretching my thoughts. I do not go by the book. If I feel that I should take some initiatives to do things differently, I propose the changes to reach the target. I give weight to my intuition.
3. I became courageous to commit mistakes.
Living and doing things right is just a temporary shield in avoiding pain. Time will come that being perfect will prevent one to develop himself. It is acceptable to fail because of mistakes. These learning eventually molded me to become better.
4. I did the same things differently the next time.
I have second thoughts when at some point in my career, I put myself in an uncomfortable situation. It’s a given in our office that when you make suggestions, you will do the next steps to effect your recommendations. My share in reinvention, although unnoticed, increased my creativity and innovation. My reward may not be a promotion but I got more increases in my private life.
5. I became open to unpredictable demands.
Part of doing business especially in government service is to expect the unexpected. That’s why I am always ready with Plan B. If I insisted on the perfect option, I could have been in catastrophic mode by now.
All of us need to know what perfectionism may be costing us. Cut loose from any thoughts that prevent us from taking risks, showing initiative, learning in the process, developing our leadership skills, and growing in wisdom.