Is your drive to perfection holding you back?

This moon is shit – said someone at a party last night. – It’s not even an accurate representation of the terrain.
Yeah, I see what you mean. – I said. – That’s 3D printing with a light inside, so they had to add an extra layer for the basins to make them dark, and vice versa.
I don’t care. It’s simply shit.

That moon was a birthday gift from me to Pola on her last birthday, and I loved it so much I got another one for myself. Yes, I’d prefer the high parts to be actually high and the low parts to be low, but you know what? That’s absolutely the most freaking awesome lamp I ever head. I don’t care if it’s accurate or not, all I care is I have a funkin moon in my room that brings the silliest grin on my face every time I see it.

If only I could chill about my work like I chill about my moon

I love my job and I’m good at what I’m doing. Even writing this sentence feels super weird. It’s hard for me to be proud of my own achievements, lest someone finds some mistakes in it – wouldn’t that be a proof there’s nothing to be proud of?
I’m working through a video leadership course right now, and had to write my farewell letter as I leave the company a few years from now, as well as comments of grateful colleagues. The letter was the easy part. However, pretending to be other people complimenting on my work turned out to be a much bigger challenge than I expected.
I never knew writing nice things about myself would feel so awkward and unnatural. I like myself in general. I know I’m likeable, even if a little weird. Yet my own work to me feels like my moon felt to that friend. No matter how awesome it is, one imperfect detail will ruin the whole effect.

It’s hard to find happiness if everything has to be perfect

I need to remind myself how much progress I made. Sometimes I need to remind this to myself a few times per week. I was a prodigy kid winning one competition after another, and expected no less than winning. When I went to college and couldn’t keep up, I gave it all up altogether. If you’re hardwired to win, anything less than perfect feels simply like shit.
But if your feeling like shit keeps holding you back from all the awesome stuff you would otherwise do, you’re in deep trouble. There’s only so much you can do that is perfect, and so much more that can have great impact being just good enough.
Believing my work is good enough is hard. It means pushing it out to the world even if you know it could be improved, and that someone will point that out. It’s not easy to accept any feedback, if deep down you believe you’re worthless unless you’re perfect. If only I could spend another hour, day, or month, I would show them how good I can be…

Nobody cares about how good you can be. They only care what is done.

If your work is perfect, but several years late, that’s several years with no solution to a problem that had to be solved. If that problem didn’t really have to be solved, why even bother spending so much time on it? I used to think my drive to perfection lets me help people in the best way possible. In fact, I’m helping people much less than I could be, if I wasn’t so insecure and afraid of critique.
Yes, my moon would be better if the topography was right. Yes, perhaps in another few years they’ll make an accurate one. No, that doesn’t mean an imperfect moon lamp is worse than no moon lamp at all. In fact it’s a freaking amazing moon lamp, and I’m super happy I have one.

What would YOU compliment yourself for?

I learned a lot doing that compliment exercise. It made me want to become the person who deserves those compliments. If that means lowering my impossible standards to give my team what they need most, so be it. I know I’m smart, talented, and have great ideas. No amount of mistakes, feedback, or criticism is ever going to change that.


3 responses to “Is your drive to perfection holding you back?”

  1. I remember when, back in high school, I took part in an ortography challenge and got to be second. I was so sad and disappointed and my friend was laughing at me, saying I’m nuts and that I should be happy being the second best in the whole school. Well, second best was not enough for me. And just as you say, I always have the feeling I need to be perfect cause good is not enough. My challenge now to quit thinking that others know more than me about what I do 😊 Good luck with your video course!

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