29 Aug IMPERFECT SOLUTIONS
Moss Jackson, PhD
Psychologist Success Coach
Are you trying to be perfect?
When you do not succeed, do you get annoyed with yourself?
Are you trying to live up to high standards?
Perfectionism is a waste of energy! Perfectionism is a standard that eludes all humans. We are imperfect beings in an impossible-to-please world. Perfectionism is a cruel master that is unforgiving and inflexible. It demands constant judging of yourself with little self-compassion or self-acceptance. It can screw up almost every part of your life, be it work, sports or relationships.
In My work as a Success Coach, I get to meet athletes and business people working to succeed. These individuals set high standards for themselves and often others that they usually fail to achieve. Some realize the need to lighten up and learn from their mistakes. These people tend to do well by taking on challenges, making mistakes and learning from their experiences. They have what Carol Dweck calls a “Growth Mindset.” They do not succumb to self-blame, shame or disgust. They set their goals and do their best to succeed. If they achieve their goal, they feel a sense of accomplishment and reflect on what they did to succeed. If they fail, they take a deep breath, reflect on what happened, learn from their mistakes and get back into action ASAP. They do not get caught up in the trap of ruminations like “Did I look good?”.
The “Fixed Mindset” people also set high goals but when they make a mistake or fail, they get angry and disgusted with themselves, often feel like failures and either blame themselves or someone else. They are not really learning how to succeed, they are finding proof that there is something wrong with themselves. They hate not “looking good!” They take themselves much too seriously.
I recently was coaching a professional golfer whose game was falling apart. He had a great swing and could drive the ball three hundred yards. As long as he was playing well, he felt successful. But if he miss hit a shot or fell behind his cohorts, he would get annoyed, become resentful and mess his game up. Sometimes he could recover his self-composure and regain his natural or “authentic swing.” Most often though, he would get disgusted, feel embarrassed and worry about what the other players were thinking about him. Needless to say, he was not winning many matches.
I was talking to him in one session about the idea of “Imperfect Solutions,” thinking about how to slightly improve and move on from a mistake. I asked him what club gave him the most difficulty. He reflected for a moment and said, “My 3-iron.”
After some discussion, I gave him a homework assignment to complete the next week before our session. He was to go to the golf course at the break of dawn and play eighteen holes with only one club, i.e., his 3-iron. Every shot from tee to green, sand trap to the hole, he could only use his three iron. He said that was impossible because he had thirteen other clubs that were designed to be used to play a perfect round. He could not succeed with only one club! I said “not this round, this is a challenge that requires an imperfect solution!”
He said he would do it. In my instructions to him I advised him that “Golf is a perfect game for golfers to mess up. While great shots and rounds could be near perfect, sooner or later bad shots happen. Use your 3-iron and improvise. Come back and tell me what you learned. ”
The next session he came in with much to say. He said he first started the round trying to hit every shot perfectly. When he hit a sand trap on one hole though, he had to take three strokes to get out. He realized he would not score well. He started to relax a bit and improvise his shots. He just changed his mindset and wondered what he could learn from the experience. He played out his round by experimenting with various shots and he stopped keeping score. He reported playing like when he was a child, enjoying what he was doing without proving anything. He could see the value of an open or Growth Mindset where he could experiment, learn from his mistakes and practice recovering from mistakes.
Can you start letting go of your impossible mission of perfectionism?
Can you stop keeping score in life and just try things out to see if they work or not?
Can you fail on purpose and see if you can smile at the mistake and bounce back?
Can you take in a “Growth Mindset?
Hope you enjoyed the post. Let me know how you are doing. Time for me to screw something up this afternoon and practice some self-compassion.
Check out my new book if you want to learn how to live life abundantly and let go of the “not good enough” mentality!