Who would ever think that this was a problem, being too perfect? Is there such a thing? Unfortunately there is.

There are many people who have the mistaken idea that if you are good at something, or you are successful , you were born with the intrinsic talent or knowledge to know just what to do. Nothing could be farther from the truth!

In order to succeed at anything you have to court epic failure, embarrassment, mistakes and missteps. People who think they need to be perfect are afraid or unwilling to take chances that any of these negative things will occur. They delay taking action until they feel they can turn in a flawless performance. So of course, they never take action.

There are many books written about the early failures of famous, successful people. In “Mastery” by Robert Greene, he sifts through the biographies of great historical figures to determine the behaviors that made them successful so that they were able to gain control over their lives and destiny. What does it take to be great at something? Although there are many behaviors that contribute to a person’s ability to gain mastery, two of them stand out as the opposite to seeking perfection. The first is to embrace criticism and be grateful for the opportunity to learn and improve. The second is to be willing to “pay your dues”, to be humble, to be an apprentice, to have a “beginner’s mind”.

In “Talent is Overrated”, Geoff Colvin discusses that what really makes the difference in extraordinary performance is a highly specific type of practice. It is a practice that is hard, that pushes you beyond your comfort zone, not merely going through the motions. The lesson here is to be scared ,but act anyway!

There are also many big and small stories of the not-so-famous people we meet every day who are trying to attain their dreams and goals. What behaviors help propel them forward and which ones hold them back?

Take the tale of two

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“wanna be” sheep herding competitors. (Yes, there really is such a thing!) . Person A studied herding, watched many trials, critiqued the mistakes others made in the trial arena, and talked herding strategies with famous competitors. If she and her dog did poorly during a lesson, she quit and blamed the training method, the livestock, etc. Ten years down the road, Person A has never trialed a dog.

Person B also dreamed of trialing. She took lessons, and put herself out there at practice and exhibition matches. She stuck with her training and trialing despite many embarrassing moments and many failures. This is not an easy sport! After 10 years, Person B has successfully trialed many dogs, some to advanced titles. She is now teaching others and remains passionate about the sport. Who would you rather? Besides the embarrassing moments make great stories later!

The key to mastery is practice and doing. So if perfectionism is getting in the way of changing something or accomplishing something, here are a few ideas. 1) Set a small goal. 2) Tell someone – secrecy keeps perfectionism alive and well! Be accountable. 3)

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is to act despite your fear and anxiety! The outcome is not important, feeling good while doing it is not important, the DOING is important! 4) Allow yourself to practice making mistakes. Tell yourself that making mistakes is normal and expected. Find some examples of people who inspire you – read about them, talk to them, and you will discover all of the mistakes they made and continue to make! Notice that they don’t seem too bothered by it- “been there, done that”.

So, instead of waiting to be perfect, be a starter! The perfect time never comes, there are no guarantees, ever!


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