I was speaking with a client the other day about her nervousness when it came to presenting to a large group.
She’s very good at her job, she has quite a senior position in her company, but she stresses a LOT about how she presents herself, mainly because she is a chronic high achiever and sets a very high standard for herself.
She said to me:
“I feel like I have to do things perfectly. So I stress about what I’m going to say, how I say it, and when I do mess up, I’m really hard on myself, and I worry about what other people will think of me.”
Does this sound like you?
If so, know that you are not alone. I see this come up with a lot of my clients and people I work with. I even recognise it in myself!
In this episode, I share WHY it’s important to recognise your perfectionist tendencies, and HOW you can work to overcome them. And as a result, you’ll be less stressed, happier, more productive AND more effective when you speak and present.
What is perfectionism?
Essentially, it has 3 parts:
- The relentless striving for unreasonably high standards. These are standards we set for OURSELVES, not by others.
- Judging your self worth based on whether you achieve these standards or not. So if you don’t achieve it, you think: ‘I’m no good, I’m a terrible human, I suck, I have nothing important or valuable to say.’
- Experiencing negative consequences as a result of striving for such high standards. This could be stress, lack of sleep, procrastination, lowered productivity levels, feeling like a failure, relationships suffer, general wellbeing decreases.
How do we manage it?
- Recognise if you are striving for your goals in a healthy, positive way, or in a negative way. For example, let’s say you’re preparing a speech. You want to do it well, so you make sure you’re prepared. You ask other people for feedback and support. That’s healthy, and has a positive impact on you. Or, maybe you meticulously type out your speech and try to memorise the entire thing, word for word. You lose sleep over it. You worry you haven’t included enough information. You don’t show anyone your speech in case they say it’s no good. THIS is unhealthy and unhelpful.
- Lose the ‘all or nothing’ mindset. You may think: ‘If I don’t do well, I FAIL. I either do it RIGHT or WRONG.’ There is no such thing as right or wrong!
- Use the 80/20 rule. If it’s 80% there, it’s good enough. If you share 80% of what you wanted to say, that’s good enough. Better to be done and imperfect, than perfect and not done. I sometimes get caught up when I’m editing the podcast and I want to remove every little imperfection, but I realised it’s not worth worrying about those tiny details. As long as it’s 80% there, it’s fine.
- Know the VALUE that you offer others. Ask people who know you well: “What do I do well, and why is this important to you?” This will give you SOLID, FACTUAL PROOF of your value, so you don’t need to have an emotional battle with yourself.
- You only have to be ONE step ahead of others to be seen as a leader. I signed up a client the other day, and she said to me: “I really want you as my coach because I can see you learned how to be a great speaker only a few years ago. It shows me that I can do it too.” So when you’re speaking with clients or colleagues or other stakeholders, know that you only need to be 1 step ahead of them. You don’t need to know everything perfectly.
- Listen in for my final (and slightly weird) tip for managing your perfectionism!
- My interview with Jason Freeman. He explains how yoga helped him to accept and learn to love himself. So inspiring!
- How to overcome perfectionism — my interview with Christopher Browning
- How to not care what others think of you — another one of my solo shows