I’ve mentioned many times before that there seems to be a theme emerge for the Weekly Thought.
This week’s theme is perfectionism or procrastination.
On three separate occasions the past few weeks, I was reminded of the difference and how perfectionism can stop us in our tracks.
Scene 1: A coaching client gave me all sorts of excuses as to why he needed to get his website organised and his advertising schedule done before he could promote a workshop.
“How many people do you need to run the workshop?” I asked.
“About 10”, he answered.
“Do you really need a website and advertising to invite 10 people to a workshop?”
Point taken. All he needed to do was set the date and book a venue. Once that was done, it was a simple matter of inviting people from his network.
Scene 2: A colleague had an idea for writing a series of books. He explained in great detail how he was going to spend the weekend planning and strategizing for the books and develop the formula and then he could start to write.
“Do you know what the books are about?” I asked.
“Of course”, he replied and then proceeded to tell me all these wonderful adventures the main character would experience. He came alive talking about it.
I challenged him, “If you’re up for it, forget the planning this weekend and simply write the first book.” He looked at me like I had just punched him.
“No, I can’t do that. I have to plan it all out.”
I challenged again. Finally he agreed.
“Oh alright, I’ll write the first one on Sunday.”
A few weeks later I saw him again and he had in fact written the first book, well with one paragraph to go.
“Did you enjoy it?”
“Yes”, he said and his face lit up. He had started. He had fun and totally enjoyed the writing process.
Scene 3: My turn to take my own advice. I was sharing with the same colleague a few weeks later about revamping my website and my brand. I went into great detail explaining the strategy I needed to implement to generate more sales. He looked at me and grinned.
“A wise person once told me”, he began.
“Uh Oh”, I knew what was coming. I had recently engaged some services and he knew it.
He asked me, “Did you go to a website for that?”
“Did you find it through advertising?”
“Oh, how did you hear about it then?” he asked.
“I knew the people and they knew what I needed and they made an offer and it made sense so I engaged them.”
Now he was grinning like a Cheshire cat. He had just caught the mouse.
“So you don’t need to have a fancy website, or even do advertising”, he continued. “You just need to talk to people and let them know how you can help.”
“Ouch.” You know those times when you just want to reach across the table and smack them.
He was right. I had to take my own medicine.
And as always, I share with you because I now know from almost 8 years of Weekly Thoughts (that’s next week), that someone reading this needs to hear this message today.
“It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be done.” This comes from a great mentor of mine, Kip McGrath. He realised very early that I was prone to perfectionism; that my perfectionism was a great excuse for procrastination.
He managed me very well. He would give me a time limit to do a job and whether it was complete or not (of course I generally got it done), I was to return to his office at the appointed time with the job, regardless of progress.
Your action this week is to notice how often you or people close to you use perfectionism as a means of avoiding tasks or procrastinating in general.
The first step to change is to become aware of it.
Your second task is to gently share the feedback. “C’mon. You can do it. No need to procrastinate on that too.”