Put Perfectionism on Pause

by | Oct 18, 2017

Darcy Luoma is one of America’s most highly credentialed coaches. She’s worked in 48 industries, with more than 500 organizations, and has impacted tens of thousands of leaders and employees.

I am a recovering perfectionist who is not actually in recovery. I try to keep those perfectionist forces at bay, but they keep sneaking back in. If you struggle like I do, I want to encourage you to take on a different perspective. If things are not perfect, can you find a way to embrace and enjoy imperfection?

Last week I was doing my weekly Facebook live video just after my very first Thoughtfully Fit corporate workshop. We had an engaging and full morning, and I was hoping to do my video quickly before my next event less than an hour later. Right after the workshop, I got everything set up and started taping. All was fine and good, until about five minutes in, when a message pops up on my screen that says my internet is not working. Right in the middle of my live video!

Little Miss Perfect Pants is sooo bossy!

And that is when Little Miss Perfect Pants showed up; I finally named her, since she likes to hang out with me so much. She wanted to remind me that my live video was cut off. How nice of her. She further went on to say that it probably would make no sense to continue taping, since I likely couldn’t even remember where I was when it stopped. She also had a few choice words for me about how I KNOW better than to schedule my day so tight, and as a result I was now going to be late to my next event. And my hair didn’t look that good anyway. She can be a real handful!

In this moment, my perfectionism was in overdrive, and I was NOT being Thoughtfully Fit. I did not pause and take a breath. I did not think about what I wanted to share next given this snafu. I just sat there spiraling and let Little Miss Perfect Pants take over. She was relentless. What would people think about my professionalism and attention to detail? Who is going to watch two videos? How will it look when I walk in late to my next event

Who is riding shotgun?

Brené Brown reminds us that perfectionism is different than striving for excellence. Striving is internal, but perfectionism crosses the line into shame and worrying about what people will think. As Brené says, “‘When perfectionism is driving us, shame is always riding shotgun and fear is the backseat driver.”

So, that afternoon, I told Cathy on my team that I wanted to take down the interrupted video. And while she was willing, she also offered ‘What about owning it? And appreciating the value even though it wasn’t perfect? Show them your humanity. NOBODY is perfect.’

I realized she was exactly right. I just needed to let that imperfect video stay there, and more importantly, I needed to let go of the shame I had around my behavior and being seen NOT practicing what I preach. I also needed to move past the fear of what people would think about the messed up video.

Get back in the driver’s seat

So, what can you do when your Little Miss Perfect Pants shows up? PAUSE in the moment. THINK about whether this is about striving for excellence, or whether you are worried about what people will think. Then think about what is possible. What is possible if you stop worrying about what people think? What do you really want? And ACT in a way that isn’t driven by shame or fear.

Remember: being Thoughtfully Fit is a process. You’re never ‘done’. And if things don’t quite go your way today, there is always another chance to get back in the driver’s seat and continue to learn and grow.

Watch my full video on perfectionism!

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