Life is messy and unpredictable, humans are complicated and inclined to be irrational. Context varies and everyone has their individual quirks. So - where on earth does 'perfection' find a place in all this? It would certainly be the 'odd one out' and struggle to find many friends!
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen
But how might striving for perfection have a negative impact on you at work or even the success of your business? Try these 5 for starters:
'Hang on - I can't remember my next line'.
'I must keep to the plan at all costs.'
With this kind of mindset you will struggle to deliver an engaging presentation.
When I am coaching clients of course we discuss structure, flow, links, beginnings and ends... you do need a plan that makes sense for the audience to follow.
However - they won't follow something just because of the minutely thought through plan and structure - they need emotional hooks and they need to feel they are part of it all.
For this you need to be present. To be present you need to be out of your own head - not obsessing over what your 'next line is' or whether you dare respond to the mood of the audience - because it might mean deviating from your oh so perfect plan.
Perfectionism is one of the symptoms of 'Impostor Syndrome' - and can so easily rack up to result in exhaustion and taken to the max - breakdown.
If you are convinced that only perfect presentations, essays, project delivery, meetings, interviews etc etc... will avoid you being found out for the 'fraud' you clearly are... then you are going to be burning the candle at both ends in all the worst ways - not even fun ways!
Stop - look around - are you the only one left in the office! Guess what - some of the best ideas come from refreshed minds - and during more playful times!
If you spent too long trying to get all your ducks in a row - you will end up drowning in procrastination. Just one of the pitfalls of perfection.
This is obvious really. Producing something good needs you to at least start! There is a reason for the word 'draft'. Whether you are putting a presentation together or a full-blown company strategy - you have to start somewhere - and if you have a perfect end-product as your mission from the start you will never start!
Makes notes, scribble, brainstorm, ask others, be curious, experiment... avoid committing to your idea of 'perfection' (which won't be anyway!)
This follows on from the above. Without mistakes, deviations and explorations you will have 'status quo' and ordinary.
Out of the box thinking is the enemy of perfection - you need to be on the side of the enemy!
Improv is a great example of how wonderful things are created out of unplanned, spontaneous, collaborative creation.
Read this relevant quote from renowned futurist, trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll:
In my list of global clients, I encounter far too many people and leaders who subscribe to the idea that if they are going to do something, they need to do it absolutely perfectly the first time around.
In my view, this doesn’t fit within the fast economy of today. Take a look around at successful innovators, and they are willing to do something fast, see how it worked, and try again. Obviously quality and risk issues come into play.
Not only that, but the whole idea of ‘getting things right the first time’ is going out the window with new trends. The best way is to understand how manufacturing is changing with 3D printing. We now have the ability to conceive product, design them, build it, test it, and then re-conceive and re-design and re-deploy. It’s become an iterative process instead of a final step process. That type of innovation thinking needs to come to every process and every industry.
'No it's alright, I have that all sorted'
'Thank you for your ideas - but we are going to do it this way'
Aaargh! These are not the words of a motivating leader.
The problem with striving for perfection as a leader or manager is that you offer no gaps to be filled by the wonderfully imperfect, un-tested ideas brought to you by your team. This offers them no sense of being involved in new projects or having a voice.
It's a bit like prospecting for gold (a possible new business venture).
First you have to slosh around in lots of rivers and search out the spots where the gold might collect. Then you start digging - you have a pan full of mud and gravel. More sloshing and sieving. Then every now and then you are rewarded with a shiny nugget of gold!
Prepare and rehearse your engaging presentation or talk - I will be your director. We will chuck out perfectionism and build something imperfectly wonderful and (perfectly) prepared.
Contact me for a free consultation
I help people become more effective communicators through the kind of coaching that offers a safe space to explore and rehearse and better understand the impact they have. My blog is full of insights and tactics that will help you break down the barriers that prevent you from being a truly effective communicator. These insights are based on my own experience as well as the issues raised during coaching sessions and workshops.