Every two weeks I speak with a friend and colleague about our respective business endeavors. I have a leadership coaching practice and she is an organizational development consultant for non-profit organizations. She and I talk to give each other support, encouragement and advice. In all honesty, I did not look forward to our call today because I have had a major case of perfectionism regarding my coaching practice the past few months. I hated admitting that to my friend, but I knew I wanted to come clean and face down my demons.
Neither she nor I have a lot of experience in the for-profit business world. We struggle with knowing what the "right" thing to do is at any given time. Both of us have felt paralyzed by indecision. She is concerned with spending a lot of time on something only to find out it was the "wrong" thing to do. I am a firm believer in there are no wrong decisions - even decisions you wouldn't make again can lead to very important learning opportunities. The discussion got me thinking about Carol Dweck's work on mindset. People with a growth mindset view mistakes as learning opportunities; not fatal character flaws or an indication of our self-worth as human beings. I admit I struggle with having a fixed mindset; mistakes are an indication of me not being "good enough".
I was telling my friend about a professional decision I made a few years ago that in many ways was a mistake, but that I was so grateful for the experience, the things that I learned and the many relationships I developed as a result. For some reason I blurted out, "I am going to give myself permission to make mistakes in my practice." In that moment, I felt a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. The process of giving myself permission to make mistakes helped me claim my existence as a perfectly imperfect human. I started making jokes about how many mistakes I could make today.
In working with my coaching clients, I see all of the time how seemingly simple shifts in perspective can make a huge difference in self-perception and behavior. I haven't written a blog post in several months, but today I did. Is it perfect? Thank goodness no! So, please give yourself permission to screw up - or whatever the thing is you need to let yourself off of the hook.
Congratulations on being your perfectly imperfect self!