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I suspect that the few posts I have on this uncomplete site are not the best, but they are done. I also suspect that there are thousands of people who want to start a blog and have not written a single word yet. I've finally decided to learn a lesson that I have been taught for years; Done is better than perfect.
Why do we try to be perfect?
I have convinced myself that I should be proud of everything I put out into the world and if I am to be proud then it must be perfect. If I couldn't make it perfect I either wouldn't do it at all or never release it to the world. Truth is that I was never trying to be perfect, I have a paralyzing fear of failure. Ilene S. Cohen, a psychotherapist, notes that more specifically it is a fear of making a mistake. Are you just like me? Are you denying the world of your gift due to the fear of making a mistake?
Who cares if you make a mistake?
I have identified my problem, a fear of making a mistake, but I was curious why I have that fear at all. As a child, I was often disciplined for asking disruptive questions. Playing sports, I was disciplined for breaking the rules even if by mistake. As an employee, I was disciplined or fired when I made a big enough mistake. In my business, I lost clients when I made a mistake while delivering services. I'm sure there are more examples but my point is that I've made mistakes my whole life. Some of those mistakes I agree should have been disciplined but somewhere in that mess, I developed a fear of making mistakes.
While the teacher, referee, boss, and client disciplined me because of my mistakes I don't think the lesson I was supposed to learn is to not make mistakes but not to make the same mistakes. Thanks to my teacher I learned how to get answers to my questions by being non-confrontational. Thanks to the referee I learned that I need to fully understand the rules to the game I play; I assume the referee was not trying to convince to stop playing the game. Thanks to my former bosses and unsatisfied clients, I know which skills I need to improve. My point is while they may have cared that I made a mistake, those mistakes were the only way to make me better.
How to be done, not perfect.
While I am not an expert on this subject I have had success with overcoming the fear of failure with the use of strategies from experts I list below. I haven't found one thing that works every time so I rotate through them until I am moved to action.
- One of the many strategies Tony Robbins teaches is a result focused, purpose-driven, massive action plan. which ultimately is developing a mindset focused on achieving an outcome rather than fulfilling a to-do list. I rightfully fear I won't complete my ever-growing to-do list so it has been helpful for me to focus instead on completing outcomes one at a time.
- Focus accepting the now, celebrate the process you have already made and set a path to move forward. llene S. Cohen teaches that even if you do make a mistake the willingness to put yourself out there is in and of itself an accomplishment.
- Mel Robbin's book, The 5 Second Rule, has been surprisingly helpful. She discovered that simply counting down from 5 and taking action can free your mind from fear. Will Smith confirmed in an interview that fear grows stronger when you feed it time. By counting down from 5 and then taking action you eliminate the time needed for fear to take over.
- Cohen, Ilene S. “How to Let Go of the Need to Be Perfect.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-emotional-meter/201801/how-let-go-the-need-be-perfect.
- Robbins, Mel. “The 5 Second Rule.” Mel Robbins, 13 Dec. 2018, melrobbins.com/blog/the-5-second-rule/.
- “RPM Life Management System.” Tony Robbins, store.tonyrobbins.com/products/rpm-life-management-system.
- Smith, Will. “Will Smith on Skydiving - Fear.” YouTube, YouTube, 8 May 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsTBCQ2MnRM.
I've spent too much of my life not doing what I am called to do because of the fear that I couldn't do it perfectly which was ultimately a fear of making a mistake. I have also realized that the mistakes I have made have only helped me to be stronger if I choose to learn from them. So going forward I will use as many strategies as it takes to overcome the fear of making a mistake.
What do you think? Do you agree with the discoveries I have found? What is your experience with fear and perfection? Do you have some different strategies that help you to overcome that fear? Let me know in the comments below.