Why You Don’t Need To Be Excellent From The Start

Striving for high standards of excellence is great in all areas of life. The challenge comes when you think you need to be excellent from the start. In fact, such thinking leads to perfectionism, and can easily rob you of the joy of learning new skills and meeting wonderful people. 

Avoid “Easy” Thinking 

Recently, I went to a swim class. I had wanted to have this experience for several years, but never signed up. It was just easier to swim on my own time, I reasoned. Then, a friend asked to go to a class together. Moments after class ended, and I got out of the pool, I realized that my frustration in the pool came from wanting to be perfect from the start. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know it takes time, and fumbles, before making progress, but that knowing didn’t stop me from fretting. Ultimately, it was that fretting, that I wasn’t even aware of until I actually took the class, that stopped me from ever signing up for a class. 

Needing To Be Perfect, Immediately

In monitoring my thoughts, I realized that my perfectionism is the part of my brain that tells me the world is coming to an end because I didn’t get the drill right the first time. Unless I’m careful, the overactive part of my brain that thrives on the need for perfection can prevent me from achieving what I really want in life.

It’s entirely too easy to self-sabotage when you focus on the idea that you need to be perfect.

What Are You Trying To Learn?

What if, instead, you ask yourself questions about the skills you want to gain? What kind of training do you want to have? What would you like to know how to do specifically?

Perfectionism tells you that you need to be great from the start, and squeezes out any opportunity for fumbling, adjusting, and ultimately learning. 

But when you start something new, you don’t even really know the skills that are necessary to be great at it. This leads to fear.

Nothing Wrong With Fear 

As long as you know that there is going to be fear in the things you don’t know, you can decide to do things anyway!  When you take action, even though you might fail, you train your brain to remember the truth: the only way to learn is by trying. The more you take action anyway, while monitoring your thoughts, the easier it is to push through the OCD thoughts you have about being perfect right from the start. 

In order to get the skills you need on the way to performing at a high level, you sometimes have to just do the thing, knowing that the fear will subside.

Challenge Yourself To Act In Spite Of Fear

The great news is that by practicing acting in spite of fear in one area of your life, you strengthen your ability to do the same thing in all areas of your life. Pushing through the fear of swimming in the class gave me the courage that same week to step up my game in my career. 

Here’s to your greatness, 

Misti Burmeister

Misti Burmeister has been helping leaders have difficult conversations for more than 15 years, increasing engagement and productivity across generations. Help your team reach its highest potential at https://MistiBurmeister.com