I struggle from this weird tick. A tick, that until the last year, I always thought was a secret tick; a tick that others couldn’t see and thereby, couldn’t judge me by.
Alas, it seems that my “secret” tick is not so secret these days.
That tick, this silly cause for unnecessary stress and disappointment, is known as perfectionism.
It never occurred to me that my friends, my colleagues and my bosses could smell it on me, the way a dog knows what you’ve had for lunch and can sense that you are afraid of him.
I always thought that I was sneaky enough that I could hide it behind a veil of a false sense of relaxed, laid back leadership; that things like missed sellouts, a dirty house, not even dirty…a lived-in house, and a bad hair day didn’t bother me.
But the truth is, they do.
Instances such as dirty dishes left in the sink for two days, a “miss” at work that is merely a learning experience in most people’s eyes and burned pancakes are the sad causes of true “I feel shame” moments.
I always knew that I was particular about how I held myself in public and how others viewed me in the workplace, but it did not occur to me that I spent an inordinate amount of time ensuring that all outward facets of my life were “perfect”. I mean I know full-well that I am far from perfect, but I was under the jaded impression that others thought it was effortless.
Today, as part of an extended leadership training class through Vail, I received the results of a review that consisted of my peers, direct reports and members of upper-management scoring and commenting on my performance over the last six months.
All-in-all, after reading everyone’s comments I felt far more “warm fuzzies” than I expected towards most everyone that reviewed me; but it was brought to my attention that those that work with me on a daily basis, heck, even those that just work with me from afar, see right through my facade of perfectionism.
Comments such as “could take more risks”, “seems to be afraid of making a mistake” and “tends to get impatient when others don’t catch on quickly” punctuated the “opportunities” portion of my review. None of them necessarily negative, all of them perfectly constructive.
As I mulled over the comments, I began to link aspects of my personal life, the fun parts outside of work, to the thoughts of my colleagues. I was impatient because someone wasn’t completing a task in the time I had allotted them in my head and I am a bit skittish towards taking business risks because I don’t want to make a mistake that might disappoint those that look up to me and those that I look up to.
I began to realize that the people I work with know me far better than I knew myself. That they saw the far-from-perfect Me and were rooting for that Me to succeed and be the best Me I could be.
It was the perfect revelation. A perfect way to focus on bettering myself at work and at play. And starting tomorrow, I am making it my mission to let down that facade and give way to the imperfections that punctuate life and all its twists and turns.
Cheers to messy hair, dirty houses, brown shoes and a black belt and mistakes that I can and will learn from!