Have you ever driven yourself or others crazy by continuing to revise a presentation until right before it’s time to go into the meeting? Are you the person who plans every vacation down to the last detail? If so, you probably already know that you are a perfectionist.
I see a lot of perfectionists in my coaching practice. I am currently working with three female clients who struggle with perfectionism and the need for control. As a former perfectionist, I can relate. Those of us who learned early in life that we would be praised and rewarded for the things we do have a hard time believing that we have value for who we are. We were most likely the teacher’s pet and mommy’s helper at home and we still try to take care of everyone else. We may have been the first in our family to go to college and the youngest in the company to be promoted so we are afraid to fail.
Although perfectionists tend to do our jobs extremely well, we reach a point in our careers and personal lives where our need to control becomes a problem. We aren’t effective leaders because we cannot delegate completely. Our friends and family are tired of hearing that nothing ever quite measures up to our standards. We say, aloud or to ourselves, “If I ruled the world, everything would run smoothly.” It is exhausting.
If you are tired of being a perfectionist, consider the following suggestions:
• Enlist the help of a friend, colleague or coach who can help you measure your value in ways other than a list of accomplishments, such as healthy relationships or a willingness to try new things
• Ask your team and family members what you need to do differently in order to equip them for success
• Celebrate your willingness to let go of your need to control the outcome
If you aren’t a perfectionist, then I’ll bet you know at least one. Interestingly, I don’t hear these issues come up as often for men, so it’s usually the result of how women are raised and how they are praised. To support a perfectionist who wants to reform, you can:
• Ask the person how they want to be acknowledged
• Ensure they have adequate staff to whom they can delegate
• Offer to share the responsibility for planning a vacation or project
It is possible to change perfectionism and controlling behavior but it isn’t easy. It takes patience and someone to hold you accountable.
If you or a colleague is ready to take a step in that direction, contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org