When starting the Cornell Executive MBA Americas program, I knew it would be a time in my life to say “Yes!” And, say it often. Over the last decade I found myself saying, “No” to travelling, new job offers, and anything outside my comfort zone. This was my opportunity to change that habit.
When the appeal for Johnson Voices bloggers was made I thought, “Yes, this is going to be great!”I’ve always secretly harbored the fantasy that I would one day be a writer. I eagerly sat down to write my first blog post, Starbucks in hand, and experienced a classic case of writer’s block. I had nothing. Now, if you’ve met me, you know that I can carry a conversation with a tree. I don’t have a problem talking to anyone about anything … ever. However, all my ideas didn’t seem to be good enough to put pen to paper.
I found myself consumed with doubt. What if I write something and people hate it? What if I offend someone? What if my peers think poorly of me? What if no one provides validation?
So, I lived in that place of fear for two months. That’s the amount of time that lapsed since I agreed to be a blogger. That’s a lifetime to an EMBA-er!
I continued my attempts to author the perfect blog post. I had lots of fits and starts and even more bouts of frustration. Today I decided that if I waited until everything was perfect, I would never actually publish a blog post. I discovered that we need to be kinder to ourselves – I cut myself some slack, I asked for help, and I tried to do the best I could with what I have. This program has helped me realize there are many things that aren’t perfect. In the beginning this reality made me crazy. As time goes on and I focus on the bigger picture, I understand what is and isn’t important – effort, passion, drive, and commitment. Efficiency beats perfection every day of the week.
An article written by Carolyn Gregoire for The Huffington Post lists 14 Signs that Your Perfectionism has Gotten Out of Control. It was eye-opening to see how many of these indictors apply to me. Ten, if you ask me and, all if you ask my husband:
- You’ve always been eager to please
- You know your drive to perfection is hurting you, but you consider it the price you pay for success
- You’re a big procrastinator
- You’re highly critical of others
- You go big or go home
- You have a hard time opening up to other people
- You know there’s no use crying over spilt milk … but you do anyway
- You take everything personally
- You get really defensive when criticized
- You’re never quite “there yet”
- The image below makes you nervous
- You take pleasure in someone else’s failure, even though it has nothing to do with you
- You get secretly nostalgic for your school days
- You have a guilty soul
In her 2005 bestseller, Perfectionism: A Modern Disease, Dr. Brene Brown says, “Perfectionism is not about striving for excellence or healthy striving, it’s a way of thinking and feeling that says this: If I look perfect, do it perfect, work perfect, and live perfect, I can avoid or minimize shame, blame, and judgment.” Her remedy is to practice authenticity. Let others see you exactly as you are, and let go of the protection that perfectionism gives us in order to express vulnerability.
So here I am, fellow Cornellians, flawed and imperfect. Even if you didn’t enjoy my first blog post, or weren’t captivated by my words, I hope you got the message: don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and don’t let perfectionism stop you from doing what you want to do.
As for me, I am a work in progress. That’s (almost) okay with me.