5 Tips I use to stop Perfection from Ruling.
The good old gremlin, Perfection. Ultimately when things don’t go to plan. We have two choices.
1. Panic and upset our mental and physical health, or;
2. Make up Plan B and own it. (This may upset your ego- that feisty little bugger loves the seduction of perfection).
What happens when things don’t quite go to plan. You know what I am talking about, you have it all organised (or maybe if you’re like me your version of organised, is working down to the wire – I get a thrill out of deadlines). Then it is D day, for example it is time to present something and kapoof! Your computer is not working.
Yes, it is 2019 and yes your computer is still glitching despite the swift advances in technology. You can buy a car from the internet on your fridge, but you cannot fully rely on your computer or any technology for that matter.
You would think that by now comments like ‘my computer isn’t working’, would be null and void (a bit like the VCR and floppy disk), but it happens. Occasionally, things happen and we are not always prepared.
The message today is. It is not the situation but how you deal with the situation that matters the most. When you think about what happens when things don’t quite go to plan, it is not really what has happened (or not happened correctly), which makes us panic, it is that we are fearful of experiencing rejection from those around us when they find out that we have not delivered.
What will X say, if I can’t present this piece like I said I would, will they will think I am incompetent? The internal dialogue starts taking on a life of its own. ‘Will I lose my job or this potential client?’. We have all been there- in fact I was there last week. I was preparing to present a brief to a potential client and would you believe that my computer AND my desktop would not work that morning (for context these computers are both under 12 months old).
I had a decision to make.
I was either going to back the gremlins in my head, which creeped up and said things like “You should have checked this yesterday”, “This really doesn’t look professional”, “Re schedule the meeting, until you have everything perfect”, or back myself.
I chose to back myself, not the gremlins. Was it the easy option? No.
Perfection is seductive. When we pull it off, it makes our artificial sense of self, feel light and flawless, but it is a hard act to follow. And it is exhausting! Think about how much effort it takes to get a situation 'perfect'.
Deep down, we all know that perfection is not sustainable. We know that it is simply a mountain of expectations, yet we consciously and subconsciously, continue to strive for it. Did you know that perfection is not only emotionally taxing, it is not even conducive to productivity. That means, that when it works, it's great, but when it does not work- which is often - we are left with a catastrophe of emotions and panic, which can take us a long time to recover from.
Resort To Plan B
How about this, instead of shaming ourselves into what we could have done, we use OUR BEST efforts under the current circumstances and resort to Plan B. If that feels foreign to you, ask yourself, when did YOUR BEST suddenly not cut the social or workplace benchmark. Your best is always enough.
Acknowledge That Your Best is Enough
This is what I did the morning both of my computers decided to have a siesta (perhaps it was retrograde, I’m not sure).
1. I settled in to my feelings and asked myself what was important in this moment. My belief in myself, or my ego or the gremlins in my head?
2. I quickly determined that I was worthy of this space and I continued to focus on my work (yes, I continued to edit the document that would not save).
3. I knew that as soon as I walked into that meeting, that I was going to be up front and clear with the potential client.
Communicate Clearly - Be Your Own PR person
4. With that in mind. I focussed on being CLEAR and KIND about the situation. I greeted my prospective client and made eye contact, said I was delighted to meet with them. Then said with a warm smile and in a humble tone, “I have to be honest, I am not as prepared as I had planned to be. I do not have a brief for you. For reasons unknown to me, my computer/s are not working as they should be today. I really do apologise. For now though, I have my laptop here and I will present the brief from my laptop/VC screen and send the file to you during the week. Are you comfortable with this?”. That was met with a “That’s okay, it is always the way isn’t it with technology…”. The meeting continued. It was really no big deal.
5. What I did here is, is lead with honestly and transparency. I presented problem and also the interim solution right behind it (to present off the screen/VC).
6. I backed myself. I think that is the core ingredient here, self-belief. Let me be honest, it took some time and nurturing self talk. Remember, you have to be your own PR person.
This is sometimes not easy, I know, but if you don’t back you, who will?
With much kindness and respect to you.