Perfectionism at Work

I'm tackling a new fear lately:  PERFECTIONISM.  

Yep, its a big one.  

It may not look like a fear at first glance, but when you break it down, all that perfectionism really is is fear of failure, fear of being vulnerable, fear of not being enough.  That's some pretty intense stuff, so you can see why it has taken me so long to tackle it.  

I face perfectionism in several areas of my life, but it is the most pronounced in  my work.  I know that I am not perfect.  I have so much to learn, and I feel like most of the time I am pretty humble about my weaknesses and areas where I lack experience.  However, lately I have been doing some things at work that involve completely new territory, but they are things that I feel like I should know at this point in my career.  So I tried at first to navigate this new terrain by myself, teaching myself as best I could and asking questions only when all other options had been exhausted.  Even when others offered their help to me, I was reluctant to accept it, because I felt that I needed to learn these things on my own in order to really understand and assimilate the information.  But after a few days of this exhausting whirlwind of ignorance, feeling utterly defeated, I finally admitted that I needed help and could not do this on my own.  Much to my surprise, I was not fired on the spot or mocked and ridiculed (at least not to my face).  Instead, I was given the help that I needed.  Those who were experienced in my areas of lack were more than willing to share their knowledge with me.  In fact, no one else even seemed to care that I didn't know this stuff.  I was the only one who was worried about it!  I will say that it was a little bit of a blow to  my ego to have someone sit down and break things down into baby steps for me... but that is exactly what I needed.  And, much stronger than my twinge of pride, was the surge of relief and gratitude that I felt from finally opening myself up to the help that I needed.

That's the sneaky little mind game that perfectionism plays on you... it  leads you to believe that you are better off suffering in silence, not allowing for mistakes rather than just asking for help and admitting that you have no idea what you are doing.  But the truth is that you're not even in the game until you start making mistakes.  If you're not failing at anything, then you are not really trying.  If you're not screwing a few things up now and then, chances are that you are playing it safe, not venturing out of your cozy little comfort zone, because you are too terrified of a less than perfect performance.  Trust me, I know the feeling.  But I also know that I want to continue to learn and grow and improve as an architect and a human being. And that's gonna be a lot harder if I keep demanding perfection from myself.  I've been battling with this for a long time, and I'm so relieved to have finally made a tiny crack in my armor.  This wall of perfectionism has been between me and my ambitions for years, and I'm finally ready to tear it down so that the real work can begin.

Do you battle with perfectionism in your work?  What about other areas of your life?  How have you gotten past your fear of failure?  If you have techniques or ideas please share, I'd love to hear from you.

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2015

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