Getting off autopilot (3 of 4) – Cut yourself some slack

High standards are usually appreciated in work.  Having the reputation of being a person who does a good job, who knows their stuff and who delivers – well, that’s rarely a bad thing! But, like all strengths, you can overdo diligence.

Last time, we looked at the addiction that we can develop to pleasing other people. Trying to be perfect is no different.  It’s all too easy to conclude that your essential worth depends on not making any mistakes; not getting it wrong. But mostly being good enough is all that is needed.

Do you:

  • Get feedback that you are a stickler for detail?
  • Find that it’s usually you who spots mistakes, flaws or weaknesses in something?
  • Refuse to compromise on quality, ever?
  • Always get volunteered to check the numbers or do the proof reading?
  • Find it hard to delegate to people for fear that they won’t do a good job?
  • Get criticised for being a pedant?
  • Feel it’s better to be right than liked?
  • Find it hard to stand back from the detail?
  • Worry about the mistakes that you could have made?

As we said, high standards are usually great, but carry on like this and you will over-stress your nervous system and you could well pay a high price as your mental and physical health starts to suffer.  Take a moment and consider some alternatives.  Trying to be perfect all the time is a one-down position and it’s just not realistic. You have the right to be human and humans make mistakes.

Next time you feel compelled to be perfect, try these tactics:

  • Read up on the power of marginal gain or the slight edge
  • Reflect on what one of our consultants calls the WD40 principle (WD1-39 were steps in the process)
  • Mull over the NLP idea that there’s no failure, just feedback!
  • Stand back and review the whole picture
  • Recognise that at the root of much perfectionism there is a fear of failure
  • Take a risk, try some prototypes!

Interested to learn more?  Order a copy of our book Staying Sane in Business or get in touch and talk to us about how coaching could help.

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