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Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Price of Perfectionism – Losing Sight of the Big Picture – Procrastination and Delayed Learning

Losing Sight of the Big Picture As our unwavering insistence that everything be perfect consumes us, the big picture or other important issues can get neglected.  As a result, we spend vast amounts of time and energy in “perfecting” one item, only to find ourselves in a crisis because we’ve overlooked or run out of time to attend to an item which was much more important. We’ve all heard ourselves say, “I was so focused on ____________ that I forgot something that was really important.”  Ask yourself, “What’s most important?”  Be sure that question is answered before exhausting yourself in minutia which might not matter. Perfectionism Leads to Procrastination and Delayed Learning Perfectionists don’t want to fail.  For the perfectionist, having an imperfection is tantamount to failure.  Having no tolerance for imperfection, the perfectionist may avoid taking on projects where a flawless outcome cannot be guaranteed.  One way to make sure nothing is imperfect is to never begin. The perfectionist may say, “I’ll throw a party as soon as I finish work on the house.” Only the house is never perfect.  “I’ll buy some new clothes when I get to the perfect size.”  But the perfect size never arrives.  Because the preconditions for “guaranteeing” success aren’t created, the action never occurs. When more attention is placed upon perfection than on learning, our learning is impaired.  An attachment to perfectionism can result in avoidance of situations where we might look less than perfect, a state completely dreaded by the perfectionist.  When we’re willing to be imperfect, we take risks, learn from our mistakes, and develop more quickly. Learning necessitates making mistakes.  When we strive to develop a new skill we try, we fail, and we try again.  This unavoidable process can be torturous for the perfectionist.  The disdain for the ugliness of failed attempts can block perfectionists from trying out new experiences. Whether it’s learning a new approach to motivate your team or how to use the new software at the office, it’s impossible to be perfect from the start.  When you have thoughts about how awful you’re performing, remember that the goal is progress, not perfection, and become willing to make a few mistakes along the way.  Don’t wait for conditions to be perfect before you start living your life.  Practice makes what?  No, not perfection.  Practice makes progress.  Can you let that be “perfect”? Share a situation where your perfectionism led to procrastination, delayed learning, or caused you to lose sight of the big picture, and how you were able to move beyond it by leaving your comment below. Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach empowers you to move your life from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For more visit: http://www.IngridMartine.com.    

Positive Reviews And Purchases Cause Early Release for The Un-Game

Resilience, creativity, and flying by the seat of your pants are good qualities for 2012 and beyond. And I’m taking my own coaching from The Un-Game: Four-Play to Business as UNusual. I tossed my original release date plans for the book. The time is now. The moment is this one. Be here NOW! Yes, The Un-Game is available NOW at www.IngridMartine.com and www.Amazon.com in all the formats you’ve come to expect. The great response to review copies and purchases off my website caused me to shift my plans. Let the un-games begin!!

 

The Price of Perfectionism – Perfectionism Makes Deadlines More Challenging

With the “no imperfections allowed” standard, we struggle to complete tasks on deadline because our work has not yet achieved its “ideal” state.  We insist on making more additions, deletions, corrections, and changes, sometimes going back to our original good idea. The fact that our work will never be truly perfect becomes our excuse as we obsess over irrelevant details.  We can add  this pressure to our direct reports as well, insisting that yet more changes in whatever project be made while deadlines come and go. Let in support from others if you’re at risk for missing deadlines due to perfectionism, or if your team and your co-workers suffer from our distorted perception of what’s really important as a deadline draws near.  You’ll discover that deadlines will be reached with greater ease, and our team will thank you. Share your stories of challenges you may have overcome as  result of task deadlines, by leaving your comments below.  

The Price of Perfectionism – Is it Really So Perfect After All?

For the Perfectionist Manager and the Perfectionists They Might Be Managing “I’m a perfectionist.”  Have you ever hear these words come out of your mouth?  Perhaps you’ve declared your status with a slight sense of smugness and a secret belief that you’re just a tad bit better than the ordinary person. When I refer to perfectionism, I’m not talking about having high standards of excellence or doing your very best.  Rather, it’s the insatiable need to have everything appear flawless, and a sense that there’s something wring with you if anything around you is less than perfect.  You set extraordinary standards and suffer miserably when you fail to meet them.  You’re routinely amazed that others fail to live up to your expectations or, worse yet, that they don’t even seem to care about them. Most of us think we can recognize perfectionism.  We think it looks like the description you just read.  But it may surprise you who the closet perfectionists are.  Perfectionism wears many faces and bears many costs. If perfectionism has ever held you hostage, if you’d like to get out from under perfectionism, if you see perfectionism as an “opponent”, if you’d like to un-learn perfectionism, you must first “know” it.  The truth, that is the facts, can set you free, if you’re willing.  So over the next few weeks, we’ll examine those facts in a series of blog posts. The Cost of Perfectionism – Perfectionism wastes energy  People who suffer from perfectionism experience perfectionism as a thing…as something solid..as if it is “real” rather than a conversation we’re listening to non-stop or hear as annoying background noise.  No wonder the chatter wastes our precious energy. Examples are a dime a dozen.  When our energy is directed toward eliminating all imperfection, we spend more time than needed or appropriate to complete a given project, and expend more energy than the situation merits. When doing a performance review, we might notice that we spent four hours on it, but that half the time was spent seeking perfection rather than adding value.  The result?  We either attempt to justify our wasted time to ourselves, or we end up spending more time exhausting ourselves to “make up for it”. Every project we take on is big just because it has to conform to our immovable standards.  What about planning for the perfect staff meeting?  Is your preparation so tight and your agenda so long that you have no breathing room to be creative or invite others’ input?  Rather than the result we hope for, namely effective action, we often see tired, de-motivated people who are disconnected from, or have even forgotten the purpose of the work.  We may even be one of those people. Can you share an example of a time when perfectionism wasted your energy?  Let me know, but please post an imperfect post!  I’m serious.  Just share a time tat really stands out for you without censoring yourself or worrying about how it will land.  Your examples will enhance, if not this discussion, then some other discussion. Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach empowers you to move your life from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For more information visit:  http://www.ingridmartine.com.     .    

Courageous Conversations – Interrogate Reality

Interrogate reality doesn’t only mean the other person’s reality. It means we begin with our own.  Always. If we harbor thoughts like “John is unreasonable. How in the world can I tell him without him getting defensive?”, we’re looking in the wrong place. Courageous conversations are first of all conversations from the heart. Courageous derives from the French word “coeur” which means heart. Our hero’s heart, as in the archetype which contains both the masculine and the feminine form. And courageous conversations depend on our ability to tell the truth. “What is truth?” you ask wisely. A crucial question to have an empowering answer for. I like a working definition of truth I learned in my coach training program. “Truth is what happened or didn’t happen in physical reality” Not in my mind, but in reality. In other words, just the facts, please. By that definition “John is unreasonable” is never the truth. See how certain I am? It’s because you and I can’t see “unreasonable” in physical reality.  We can only see actions John performs or doesn’t perform which we interpret as unreasonable if we conclude “John is indeed unreasonable.” So the answer to the question “How can I tell John he’s unreasonable without him getting defensive?” is… you can’t. Of course even the word “defensive” is an interpretation and not the truth. We’re limited by our need for short-hand, and so I’ll use the word “defensive,” but I’ll use it consciously knowing it’s my interpretation of whatever John does when I share my thought with him. He may say “What? Me? Defensive? You’ve got to be kidding. You’re the one who’s….”. “Or, he may say nothing and glare. Or he may say “Tell me more” although I doubt it. I doubt he’ll be interested in you telling him more. Why? Because you haven’t told him the truth. The truth might be “I hesitate to open a conversation with you, John, because I’m afraid it won’t work out very well.” (What didn’t happen in physical reality is a conversation you’ve had in your mind, and if you report on your inner state it’s probably accurate that you had the thought it wouldn’t work out very well.). Notice how you experience your energy around your heart region. Notice the difference  between the energy generated by the truthful statement versus your other one. You continue. “I’ve had the thought that you’re unreasonable. But what I realize is that you promised to have the report in by Friday, and then you asked for an extension that caused me to scramble. I was resentful. Let’s talk about this and see where our process broke down.” That’s a pretty good beginning of a courageous conversation. When you have a good working definition of “truth” you can practice being truthful, and you will eventually do it with ease; the truth shall set you free to have a courageous conversation whenever one is needed. Imagine if our public discourse were populated with truth-tellers. Let’s imagine it and let it begin with us interrogating our own reality. If and only if we’re clear, we have a chance to help John interrogate his reality.