I have really enjoyed watching The King’s Speech and Black Swan at the cinema recently. Both are very brave and moving films: the former is dialogue-heavy which is a risk when action and CGI are the industry preference (Hollywood take note!) and the latter focuses on a subject not normally given airtime in any media. For me, both explore the idea (and perils) of perfectionism too and not just from the characters’ own view. Perfectionism can be paralysing (it is linked with procrastination) and frequently is destructive, as the anger felt is turned inward or towards others if they don’t measure up to impossibly high standards. Not surprisingly much of my work involves supporting clients, (executives and business owners) students and new coach trainees to overcome this trap.
Don’t get me wrong, having high standards and attention to detail is brilliant. Except that for many it becomes an overdone strength which turns it into a weakness. I know this from my own experience too, especially making purchasing decisions. I even did it earlier today “Well, they have not said thank you for the gift” I harrumphed, actually just to myself. My brain is expecting others to be (perfect!) like me (which it is naturally wired for – anyone not is considered a threat to survival) so the perfection shows up in this seemingly hidden way – I am not even debating my own performance here.
So let me encourage you to become aware of your emotions and the voice in your head (yes, it is that pesky inner parent again) so that you can begin to realise whether you are getting in your own way and could benefit from being brave, letting go a little in order to move forward.
“When nobody around you seems to measure up, it’s time to check your yardstick.” – Bill Lemley
“Some of us (perfectionists, especially) fuss so much over making the ‘right’ choice, but in life, all that’s really needed is to make any’ good’ choice, believe in it, go through with it, and accept the consequences.”
– Edith Schaeffer