It turns out that I used to be a perfectionist before coming online in 2006. I never thought of myself in that way, but on more than one occasion someone accused me of only being happy if something was perfect. As a classroom teacher, I thought that I always encouraged my students to do their best, and did not ever make them feel that if what they did was not perfect that I would ever think less of their accomplishment. If you have kids, you know that perfection does not exist!
But in my personal life it was a different story altogether. I was so hard on myself for the smallest things. I insisted on trying to be perfect when it came to cleaning my house, getting involved with my community, and working on projects. When I could not do something perfectly, I would simply give up. This led to a life filled with frustration and half-finished projects. I was too close to this to see what I was doing, even those who were closest to me tried to help me understand what I was doing.
The last straw was when I was injured at work and had to have knee (torn meniscus) and shoulder (rotator cuff) surgery within a few months of each other back in 2001. I was unable to work, to clean my house, and even to drive my car for part of that time. I threw in the towel and began to ask for help. This was so difficult for me in the very beginning. I can remember being at the grocery store and asking them to help me with a large bag of dog food. I began to go into great detail about my surgery and why I couldn’t lift the bag into my cart or into my car. Finally, the lady at the register said to me, “It’s alright. We want to help you with this.”
It was as though she had given me permission to ask others for help. It felt good to know that I could still get what I needed done, even though I could not do it myself.
When I came online in 2005 I saw that the biggest names on the Internet all had people helping them with various facets of their businesses. Back them I felt like I had to do everything myself because no one else could possibly do it as well as I could. I saw my perfectionism slowly creeping back into my life in a big way. This could have ruined my business had I not taken control and reframed it. Instead of insisting that everything be perfect, I made the conscious decision to strive for excellence in everything I did. This continues to be my business strategy and it serves me well.
What are your thoughts on perfectionism?