Some people wear their perfectionist title like a badge of honor. Spending time and energy to get all the tiny details just right. But when it comes to growing your business and, more importantly, growing your paycheck, trying to be perfect could be what’s holding you back.
In this week’s episode, Kristen talks about why perfectionism causes what she calls ‘analysis paralysis’ and what to do about it.
Here are a few key points:
- Understanding what happens when you’re caught in a perfection loop
- Why failure is a necessary step in growing your business
- How perfectionism creates an all-or-nothing mindset
- What messy progress can do for growth
Striving for perfection doesn’t sound like a bad thing in theory. And it isn’t always. But when you’re stuck overthinking and overanalyzing every small detail of your business, that’s when the problem arises. Feeling like you have to be perfect creates a heavy burden that you just don’t have to bear. Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it does make progress.
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Transcript for Episode #124 Impractically Perfect:
Kristen Boss (00:05): Welcome to Purposeful Social Selling with Kristen Boss. I’m your host, Kristen Boss. I’m a mindset and business coach with more than 15 years experience in both the product and service based industry. I believe that social selling is the best business model for people wanting to make an impact while they make serious income. This is the podcast for the social seller, who is tired of feeling inauthentic in their business and desires to find a more purposeful and profitable way of growing their business in today’s social media landscape. In this podcast, you will learn what it takes to grow a sustainable business through impactful and social marketing. It’s time to ditch the hustle and lead from the heart. Let me show you the new way.
Kristen Boss (00:48): Hey there, bosses. Welcome to another episode. I’m excited today to talk to you about something that I think truly stumps more entrepreneurs and dreamers. I think a lot of dreamers, specifically people who long for more want to create and do big things and achieve extraordinary goals. But even if you’ve been in business for a long time, or you’re just starting for yourself, I see this one thing stop. So many people I’ve literally coached hundreds and thousands of people. And I can’t tell you how often perfectionism gets in the way of progress and execution. When I was titling this, I called it impractically. Perfect, because I was thinking about this concept of Mary Poppins. And if you’ve watched the childhood movie, you know, she’s, you know, she, her token expression for herself is, you know, Mary Poppins practically perfect in every way. First of all, who wants that?
Kristen Boss (01:48): I’ve watched that as an adult. And I actually was like really put off by it. I was like, Ew, who do you think you are? Who wants perfect anyways, but we do seem to value the idea, the concept of perfection. I mean, think about how often you may have been conditioned in your life. That perfection is the standard. That perfect is the bar that you must set for yourself and it might not be conscious. You might not be like, yeah, no, I, everything I do, the bar I set for myself is perfection. It may not be that you might say different things to yourself, but I want to talk in a very practical way about, I almost called it shame because, because perfectionism really is a lot about shame. That’s why I love Brene brown so much. And if you haven’t read her book, the gifts of imperfection, I highly recommend it.
Kristen Boss (02:44): But this concept of, I want to talk about, I keep wanting to call it shame. Perfectionism in a really practical way so that when it comes up, you’ll understand why you’re doing it and what you can do when you’re caught in a perfection loop, a perfection struggle. So here’s some things is what’s interesting is I think most people think perfection serves us. They think it’s good. Like it’s a good thing to want to do it really well. It’s a good thing to want to, you know, execute it perfectly. We think that standard serves us, especially with business, especially we think the better it is, the more perfect it is. The more likely I am to succeed at that thing. But the problem is, is I see so many people because they have that thought the problem is I see so many people not taking any action.
Kristen Boss (03:41): And all they’re doing is editing, refining and overthinking and overanalyzing it, judging it to death without putting anything out there to test it and bring it back for revaluation and refining. What I see them doing is I see them just sitting on things for so long and absolutely paralyzed in fear because they are afraid of not doing it perfectly, because if I don’t do it perfect, then I’m not going to have success. But the problem is is because you’re not executing anything. You’re not making any progress whatsoever. This is why it’s not practical because it’s not moving you forward. It’s keeping you exactly where you are. This is why people want to go and research more, buy another book, buy another course, do that one thing, because if I do it, if I gather all the information, the likelihood of me doing it perfectly and therefore the likelihood of me having success goes exponentially higher.
Kristen Boss (04:36): But it’s not just like the likelihood of success. It’s the concept of reducing the likelihood of failure. It’s reducing the likelihood or the probability of me experiencing something. I don’t want to experience. Nobody enjoys experiencing failure. It’s not a great feeling. And a lot of times we have a lot of memories attached to failure, especially from our childhood. You might have a story from childhood that you remember, you experienced something and you deeply failed. And you created a lot of stories that you have since carried with you long into your adult life that has made you extremely afraid of failure. So this is where perfectionism comes in and says, you know what? I think if I just do this well enough, I’m going to reduce the probability of failure. But here is the thing. Failure is progress. Failure is feedback. When we are putting things out there, we’re getting what’s happening is we are getting feedback.
Kristen Boss (05:32): And from there we can refine it. We can edit it, make it better. Then we put it back out. We get more feedback and it keeps getting better and better and better. But again, we’ve been conditioned to think that perfection, perfection is the standard. Think about this expression that you probably have said in your life, or you have heard at one time or another practice makes what practice makes perfect. But in in fact I think we need to do away with that because we keep thinking like, okay, inevitably, I’m going to reach perfection. I don’t actually think that exists. I think it’s this idealistic, unrealistic bar. That’s always moving. I find that people that really struggle with perfection, like it’s like the bar is always moving. They are, they have never arrived. Seriously. Ask yourself, has there ever been anything truly in your life where you’re like, it’s perfect.
Kristen Boss (06:29): First go like ever if there is, maybe you got really lucky, but that’s not. That’s not life. So this idea of, oh, I’m going to just do this. And then eventually I will reach perfection. I think as an entrepreneur, there is no such thing. We’re never arriving. We are always evolving. We are always refining. We are always getting better. Perfection should never, ever, ever be our marker. It should always be. Am I making progress? Practice makes progress. Am I better than I was yesterday? Fantastic. Even if it’s just 1% or half a percent better, I can still look at the progress and praise that. But here’s the thing not only are, do we think that perfection reduces our probability of failure? Because listen, when you’re an entrepreneur, you are signing up for failure. You have to know that you have to, you are signing up for not just some failure, but boatloads of failure, the bigger your dreams, the bigger your pile of failures will be.
Kristen Boss (07:23): And you have to be okay with that. You have to say, yep, I’m all in. Let’s just start stacking up my failures. Now, putting something out there I’ll get feedback. And if it was a fail, it was a fail. But another thing we do is I kind of, this is why I say perfection is so rooted in shame is a lot of, a lot of times we are doing it as a self protective mechanism that if I curate and produce something in such a way, not only will it reduce the likelihood of failure, it will also reduce the likelihood of someone judging me of someone, perhaps having an opinion of me that I don’t like. So I’m going to sit here and curate this and curate myself and curate my work within an inch of its life. I’m just going to keep curating in the hopes that what I put out there will be loved and accepted and admired because what I don’t want to experience is rejection and be misunderstood.
Kristen Boss (08:19): And then having to experience the emotional experience of shame. Because oftentimes when someone is judging, you makes a statement about, you says something about you. What is your emotional experience? For me? It is almost always shame. It goes right into like, oh, I’m wrong. Something’s wrong with me? And shame. Isn’t like, I’ve done something wrong. Shame is more like I am wrong. Something is wrong with me. And I think that’s often what happens with failure is we don’t look at it and say, ah, I did something that didn’t work. What I see most people do is they look at the failure and say, I’m wrong. Something’s wrong with me? It must be a me thing instead of, mm, I tried the thing. It didn’t work. So what we are also doing with perfectionism is again, trying to reduce the likelihood of failure, which is impossible with entrepreneurship.
Kristen Boss (09:08): The second thing is we’re trying to protect ourselves from shame. We’re trying to protect ourselves from somebody, misunderstanding us from somebody judging us. Or maybe we’re trying to earn love, trying to earn someone else’s approval, earn a good job, earn a backpack, earn praise again. We have the best of intentions. Think about your intentions that go behind perfectionism. They’re not bad. It’s like I want to succeed. Yeah. I don’t want to get it wrong. Totally understandable. I don’t want people to misunderstand me. Yep. Get that. I don’t want to be judged. Okay. And I want to do it really well. Those are not bad desires, but when we put those desires above everything else, we move into self-protection through perfectionism. I’m just going to curate this and craft this in a specific way. So I don’t have to experience any of the negative things cause I don’t want that. So here’s what happens when you’re in perfection.
Kristen Boss (10:08): Here are three things that perfectionism does when you are in it. First of all, perfectionism creates an all or nothing mindset. If it’s not done well, might as well not do it. I see so many people not getting any work done because if it’s not done to their standard in their mind, it’s a complete waste of time, a complete waste of energy and might as well just throw it out. Perfectionism puts you in all or nothing. How often have you taken yourself out of the work? Because you’re telling yourself it’s not going to be good enough. And so instead of working and making progress, you’re spinning your wheels, overthinking it researching. And I, I notice and here’s a good thing to check in with yourself is most people when that’s happening, they’re procrastinating. They’re avoiding there. There’s this sense of overwhelm, maybe a sense of dread, right?
Kristen Boss (11:01): But perfectionism creates all or nothing thinking, okay. Number two is perfectionism cannot acknowledge progress. It can’t see it because it’s too busy looking at what the idealistic end goal should be. Here is this perfectionist bar that I have. And unless the work looks like that, it’s a total loss. Instead of here are small wins that I got there. Perfectionism makes no room for progress. It makes no room for small wins. Perfectionism has zero celebration culture behind it. If you cannot praise yourself, give yourself a pat on the back. If you cannot see any progress in your life, it might be because your bar is perfection and you’re just never going to let yourself get there because the bar is always moving. I notice that a lot too. Another thing with perfection is it costs you so much time and energy and even money. I’m going to say it can cost you money too.
Kristen Boss (12:06): And this is why I say it’s impractical. We think it’s practical. But what it ends up doing is it consumes so much of our mental bandwidth, our emotional bandwidth, our time and our energy, our precious resources, because we’re so busy trying to make it perfect. I see people literally throwing thousands of dollars with Facebook ads teams, hoping like, okay, they’re going to make it perfect. Instead of like actively engaging in the process or like, Hey, if I can pay that person to make my brand look perfect, or they spend forever with Canva designs and trying to make their graphics perfect before they get out there and start helping people and listen, like my version 1.0 of my business. Woo. My WordPress. I didn’t, it was not impressive. It did not look good guys. But I was still determined to help people while I had version 1.0 website out there and my team were actually thinking about, okay, we’re ready for another upgrade that we’re going.
Kristen Boss (13:07): We’re going to be doing a rebrand. We’re like this YouTube channel. And my podcast, all of those things were like, okay, we’re getting ready for a rebrand. We’re going through the next evolution of growth. And I was willing to have all the really messy steps in between. I was willing to have it be just below my ex, like just below, you know, perfect or whatever. I was like, is it good? Can I start here? Yes. But again, I, it was progress because I was willing to execute quickly because progress was more important to me than anything else. My company was able to move very quickly because I don’t make perfection. The standard. My team knows this as well. We have a rule of thumb. It’s just like, if you can do it 80% as good as I can, even 70% as good as I can. That’s excellent.
Kristen Boss (13:56): That saves my time. My energy, it keeps the company moving forward, but progress is way more important. It’s one of the core values of our company is are we making progress? We are always looking at okay. From quarter to quarter, from year to year, are we progressing? Are we trying new things? Are we evolving? That’s what matters. And there have been so many times where we’ve got it wrong and we’ve had to, we’ve had to fix it. And it’s just not a problem because we don’t make perfection the standard. So now that you kind of know what perfectionism is costing you and why it’s in practical, let’s talk about what happens when you notice yourself when perfectionism creeps in. So it’s kind of an acronym. I’m going to call it pace, pacing yourself. Here’s what you can notice first P pause. That’s the first thing you want to do is pause and notice what’s happening in your mind.
Kristen Boss (14:47): And what’s happening in relation to the activity you are actively avoiding or an activity that is not getting done at all. It’s taking you hours and hours of time. Like, I feel like the easiest way to know is if you are procrastinating, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and there’s a task in particular that you are, you know it too. You’re like, I’m totally procrastinating here. I know it’s this project that I want to get done. I know there’s these things I want to do, but how do I move forward? Like if you were stuck in that procrastination, not taking any action, kinda like I’m going to call it the free state or even flight you’re maybe you’re running away from the work. Okay. So pause. Notice what’s going on a is you have to access compassion in that moment and ask questions. So ask, ask questions and access compassion.
Kristen Boss (15:43): Here’s why you have to understand that your brain, your survival brain and yourself, what is happening is a self protective mechanism. There is a part of you that is feeling fear and your brain thinks that perfectionism is serving you in some way. You have to sit with compassionate and ask yourself questions, understanding that this part of you may have been conditioned a long time ago, maybe from childhood. Maybe you had a parent who never told you, good job. Maybe you had a parent who never said like, Hey, you’re great job. You’re doing a good work. They never gave you praise. So in your child mind, you made that mean it must not mean I’m doing good enough. So I’m just going to keep trying to aim for perfection in order to win love and approval from this person or authoritative figure in my life. Maybe it’s not a parent.
Kristen Boss (16:40): Maybe it was a coach. Maybe it was a teacher, but you might have had an experience where your learned coping mechanism as a child who didn’t know any better was okay. In order for me to earn love, to be seen, to be worthy, to matter here, perfectionism perfection is the standard. A plus is the only way I’m allowed to, you know be seen as a good student. A plus is the standard. Anything less is unacceptable. And in your child mind at the time, you kind of internalized that and that took that with you the rest of your life. And you may not know it. And just, this is why Compassion’s so important. Understanding like, oh, okay, there might be this part of me. That’s longing for approval, longing for worthiness, longing for love. This part of me, that’s afraid of being misunderstood. And what’s happening is this perfectionism mentality is kicking in because I’m scared this because this is a survival response or a coping response I’ve had for my whole life.
Kristen Boss (17:50): This is why just first accessing compassion, understanding, okay, hold on. Perfectionism is happening right now because my brain’s trying to keep me safe. And this is just how I’m coping in the world. And then you need to ask, you, ask yourself questions. What am I trying to protect myself from? With the activity with whatever the work is that you were actively avoiding, where you’re telling yourself it’s not good enough and asked to be perfect. I want you to ask yourself, ask yourself in that moment while you are feeling compassion. Hey, what is it that I’m trying to protect myself from? Okay. So pause, access, compassion, and asking questions. And then the next one is, see, you need to create emotional safety for yourself with potential outcomes. Creating emotional safety is you have to understand that the part of you that is looking at the task and thinking if I fail, if I don’t do it right, if I don’t do a good job, somebody’s going to judge me or I’m going to fail, or it’s going to be bad and all that.
Kristen Boss (18:53): And you have to ask yourself, okay, how can I, because right now your brain looks at that potential and it’s triggered. It’s like, we don’t want that. It feels fear, feels anxiety. It feels worry. So it’s like, okay. So we don’t deal with that. Let’s just focus on making this perfect over here instead of making the progress. So you have to ask yourself and do this intentionally. How can you create emotional safety with yourself, with the potential outcome you are afraid of? So let’s say you’re sitting there, you pause. You notice, okay, here’s this big project that’s coming up. I’m going to have compassion for myself. Understand, okay, what I’m trying to do here is I’m trying to protect my image because I don’t want people to see I’m incompetent, because I don’t want to feel shame. And part of that came up because you know, I had a parent that I, I can see how this, this old childhood stories coming up here in this moment, having that compassion.
Kristen Boss (19:48): And then in that moment being like, okay, let’s say I do put it out there and it doesn’t go well. And somebody says something to me. How do I want to feel in that moment? How can I feel safe with myself? How can I decide I’m worthy? How can I decide to not believe it? Because my brain is going to tell me in that moment, like, see it’s because you didn’t do it perfectly. This is why we do things perfectly. It’s deciding ahead of time, how you are going to emotionally feel when the potential outcome happens and ask and really sitting. I want you to like sit there and imagine it happening and like breathe through it and picture it being like, okay, how will I feel? I’m going to feel horrible. Dread, horrible anxiety. Okay. Breathe through it, realizing, okay, this is the worst that can happen.
Kristen Boss (20:35): Literally, what I’m feeling right now is the worst that can happen. How is it okay for me to do that? And what do I need to tell myself? So that I’m okay when that happens, so that I don’t resort back to perfectionism so that I take care of myself in that moment. So creating emotional safety with a potential outcome and then execute the action. I’m going to say, even put a deadline with it, like you’ve gone. You’ve now gone through the inventory. You’ve paused, you’ve accessed compassion and asked questions. You’ve created emotional safety for the potential outcome. And now it’s time to execute the action and do it with a deadline, set a timer, say, it’s going to get done by this time. No excuses. I will put out this draft, this version 1.0 this version 2.0, whatever it is, I’m going to put it out and I’m going to have my own back.
Kristen Boss (21:31): I’m going to be really proud that I put out work because I’m making progress because what doesn’t happen is if I continue to put this off, I know what’s definitely not happening. This progress. I’m not moving the needle forward. I’m not getting feedback. I’m not getting feedback. That is vital for me in order for me to create the next evolution of this work. So I want you to just think about that. If you were someone that struggles with perfectionism first, just like understanding that part of yourself, understanding like, Hey, it’s your brain thinks it serves you. It’s a survival mechanism. It’s just a way to ensure that you belong. That you matter, it’s to protect you from failure and all those things. But you have to understand when you sit with it and look at the results it’s creating, you have to say, okay, it’s actually not practical that I keep resorting to this. Cause I’m losing so much of my time and energy and emotions spinning out here when I could be making progress. So try that next time you’re noticing you are procrastinating, avoiding the task, avoiding the overwhelm, try this pace principle. Pause, access, compassion, and ask questions. Create emotional safety for the outcomes and execute with a deadline. Okay? Okay. You next time,
Kristen Boss (22:54): That wraps up today’s episode. Hey, if you love today’s show, I would love for you to take a minute and give a rating with a review. If you desire to elevate the social selling industry, that means we need more people listening to this message so that they can know it can be done a different way. And if you are ready to join me, it’s time for you to step into the Social Selling Academy, where I give you all the tools, training, and support to help you realize your goals. In the academy, you get weekly live coaching so that you are never lost or stuck in confusion. Whether you are new in the business or have been in the industry for a while, this is the premier coaching program for the modern network marketer. Go to www.thesocialsellingacademy.com to learn more.