Business of Coaching Vol.1: Do Perfectionism and Progress Clash?

Do you let perfectionism get in the way of progress?

I’ve been doing some reading on the most common challenges entrepreneurs face when growing their businesses, and I’ve identified eight recurring follies that hold us back from reaching our full entrepreneurial potential.

Over the next several months, we’ll dig into these hindrances right here in Coach’s Corner. 

 

I’ll provide tools, resources, and suggestions on how to overcome “Angie’s Hateful Eight:” Self-doubt, financial management, delegation, time management, marketing strategy, productization, ego (eek!), and…

 

Gasp….perfectionism.

 

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten to know more professional resume writers and career coaches – we’re a smart bunch. 

We’re methodical, insightful, informed, and knowledgeable in a range of topics. We love being experts in our fields (and everyone else’s fields). We have opinions we love to share. 

 

We cross every t and dot every i, quite literally. 

 

We strive for perfection.

 

An error-free, grammatically perfect resume may be our goal for client delivery, but perfectionism can be a double-edged sword when it comes to planning new business initiatives and testing the market. While perfectionism can drive us to be our best selves (strength), it can also lead to procrastination, anxiety, and fear of putting anything out there if it isn’t perfect (weakness).

 

–> Have you ever heard of Pareto’s principle?

 It’s a principle that states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort.

It’s easy to get bogged down in details, striving for the elusive 100% when there can be little additional value gained by that last push. When it comes to business, sadly, many entrepreneurs get stuck in the trap of allowing 80% of their efforts to drive 20% of results – working IN your business instead of ON your business, getting a small return on your investment, working harder not smarter – whatever you want to call it, perfectionism gets in the way of progress.

 

> Shaking your head with a little realization over there? <

 

–> Here are some steps to turn things around!

 

Note: these recommendations apply to business initiatives – attempting to launch new products or services, creating social content, writing your LinkedIn posts, etc. – NOT client deliverables. 😉

 

Embrace an iterative approach: Instead of trying to make everything perfect before launching, consider creating what we tech people like to call an MVP (minimum viable product). 

This means launching your product or service with the features that are essential, preferably to a beta group that can test your service, provide feedback, and give you testimonials. You can then make improvements based on the feedback while getting your service out there earlier. Who doesn’t want to start generating revenue sooner, anyway!

 

Set realistic goals and deadlines: Perfectionists often struggle to let go of a project because they’re never satisfied with the result. Be real with yourself, friends! Break down bigger projects into manageable tasks with specific deadlines, and reward yourself with some cake (or a ski day) when you hit them. 

This is a more realistic way to hold yourself accountable, build some endorphins by checking things off a list, and get into the “done is better than perfect” mode that helps combat endless tweaking and a never-ending quest for improvement

 

Seek feedback and support: The entrepreneurial journey is NO FUN when walked alone. It’s easy to get tunnel vision and get “in your head” about your product, service, brand, website, LinkedIn post…you name it for we perfect peaches! 

Find feedback and support from others – that’s what PARWCC is for, by the way, #shamelessplug

 

Whether it’s a trusted colleague, a mentor, your own coach, or an advisory board of clients, surround yourself with people who can give you wise counsel, share new perspectives, and provide insights that keep you moving forward

 

Celebrate small wins: Focus on progress, not perfection; it’s important to recognize that perfectionism is often an unattainable goal. 

Instead of striving for perfection, focus on making progress, focus on the 20% that will get you 80% output! Celebrate small wins and accomplishments along the way, and remind yourself that progress, even if it’s imperfect, is still progress

 

Practice self-compassion: Man, we like to beat ourselves up and often have outrageously high expectations for ourselves. Ditch self-critical talk and give yourself grace. Be kind and understanding to yourself, and acknowledge that making mistakes and experiencing setbacks is a normal part of owning, operating, and growing a business. 

As part of this, challenge the self-limiting beliefs that often fuel perfectionism and assumptions about our own abilities. Take a dose of your own medicine and follow the advice you give your clients! 

 

In summary, focus on key areas that will generate impact instead of obsessing over every little detail. Analyze your business and identify the 20% of tasks that will give you 80% of the results, and put your effort into those. You’ll find that not only will you be able to accomplish more in less time, but you’ll also free yourself from the shackles of perfectionism, and you’ll be trying out new products and services left and right (and clients will be flocking to them like flies on….)

 

Remember: no one starts off as a master. Perfection is great – it just shouldn’t get in the way of progress! You don’t have to get everything done to be successful; you’re still loveable (and hireable) if you forget an Oxford comma in a resume. We all have room for improvement, we all make mistakes, and we all try things and fail. 

 

 

It’s part of learning and growing as a coach, writer, and entrepreneur!

 

 

Your Friend and Coach, 

Angie Callen, CPCC, CPRW

Angie Callen, Founder

I created Career Benders to inspire confident professionals. In just three years, we have helped nearly 500 professionals navigate job searches, nail interviews, and find satisfaction in their careers. We’re here for you!

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