One of my favorite quotes I heard a few years ago was, "Perfection is the enemy of done." Also, "Tomorrow equals never." Perhaps, these resonate with me so much due to being a recovering perfectionist. In my earlier years, I was not able to expose any of my work until it was 'perfect', which resulted in things never getting released.
I can recall being in first grade and my parents getting called in to speak with my teacher. She informed them I was a bright child but was concerned for me. I was getting behind in my work. We were learning cursive writing at the time. The teacher told my parents I would erase a letter dozens of time until it was perfect, resulting in lagging behind my classmates.
Shame is the root cause of perfectionism
What drove this behavior was shame. Even at six years old I had developed a belief I needed to be perfect to be worthy. This is what happens to so many aspiring individuals: they have a great idea or gift to express but shame prevents them from exposing it to the world. The key to defeating perfectionism is conquering shame.
In studying the lives of exceptional people, one of the characteristics they have is the nerve to jump before they are completely ready or complete. They have a knack for figuring it out as they go. This is terrifying for a perfectionist. However, there is a difference between striving for excellence and being frozen in the need to be perfect.
The key to defeating shame is connection
If you relate to this pattern, do two things today: work on overcoming your fear and shame; and get going. Just do it! Everyone out there is not so much smarter and more talented than you; I can assure you of this. Furthermore, if you wait, you won't. Don't let your gift and expression to the world sit on the shelf any longer. Find others who will encourage and support your efforts. As they say in modern language, your tribe. There is strength in numbers.
After working through so much of my own shame, I now love to leap. I'm no longer immobilized by the need to be perfect. Life is much more fun and exciting. Believe me, if I can defeat shame, you can as well. Take the leap! Create. Do what you love and put it out to the world. We will all be grateful, and you will feel fulfilled and find your purpose. You have a fan in me and everyone else like us. I admire and appreciate your courage and vulnerability in advance. You are capable of so much more. Don't wait any longer. Go!
John Hawkins Jr., M.S., L.M.H.C.
John has helped thousands of clients overcome the hidden internal blocks which had kept them from achieving their maximum potential. Furthermore, he has assisted them in gaining clarity of their true life purpose, identifying their gifts and talents, and developing lives of greater meaning and significance.