A Coaching Power Tool created by Eric Ludeke
(Transformational Coach, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
Sufficient, a. Enough; equal to the end proposed: adequate to wants, competent; as provision sufficient for the family; water sufficient for the voyage; an army sufficient to defend the country.
Perfectionist, n. One pretending to perfection; an enthusiast of religion. Noah Webster, 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language
Anyone who has ever done something extremely well may tell you that it was a satisfying experience. A hole-in-one, a perfect score on a tough exam, a soufflé that turns out just right- the sheer pleasure of mastery in an art, a skill or a sport, as well as the recognition we receive from others, makes us want to do it again. Not only to repeat, but to improve. You beat your own record, then you go after the school record, then the world record. The judge holds up a scorecard with the number 10 scrawled on it. Your moment has arrived! You’ve got it , Baby; you’re in the Zone!
Why do we strive, and to what end? Is it personal satisfaction, the recognition of other people, financial reward, or perhaps the acceptance of God?
Is it sufficient to be better than anyone you know, or do you feel the need to go in search of new challenges? If you become the best in the world, will you be satisfied? What is enough?
What if you make a mistake? What if you get a bad review? What if someone calls you a fraud, or a pretender?
The desire to be free of error can grow into a fear of error. This fear, if yielded to, may prevent the very actions which would have resulted in improvement. You may stick to things you know well, avoiding new activities because they might involve making mistakes or looking bad. You continue working at a dead-end job because it’s comfortable. You avoid getting married because you might choose the wrong mate. You hesitate to share your faith because someone might ask the question you cannot answer. You have been writing a book for so long that you pray for a tornado to destroy it. You are stuck.
It is only natural to enjoy doing things well, and to gravitate to those activities where we perform better than the average person. When someone points out our ability, we take note of it. We want to hear more about our talents.
Yes, we are talented. Everyone is in some way. Part of our ability comes from effort that we have expended, but a great deal of it is a gift that we are born with, or is a result of other people’s investment in our life, or a combination of these. If we are proud of ourselves, we should be exponentially more grateful.
Many people know what it is to sit at the sidelines of a playing field or a dance floor, despite the cheerful invitations of those involved. We have turned down promotions because to accept them would have been to abandon our comfort zones. We have turned our backs on applauding audiences and walked away with burning ears because we felt we weren’t ready to perform. We were afraid.
Perfectionism is, to some of us, a beast of mythological proportions. We dare not slay it, for it is a part of us. Without it, we would not be who we are. If another person were to threaten it, we would defend our monster.
We don’t want to kill the beast. We just want to tame it.
The Navajo people of the American Southwest are well known for their fine hand-woven rugs and blankets, yet the artisans make no pretense of perfection.
A blanket must have an outlet – a mere thread of a different color or a slight, apparently accidental break in the border pattern, which looks like an imperfection. But if it were omitted, the woman might get the blanket sickness and lose her mind. From www. navajopeople.org
The purpose of the intentional flaw is to allow evil spirits to leave the design. Who knows what the “blanket sickness” might be? You may dismiss the idea as superstition, but for those who have been mired in the swamp of perfectionism, it may not seem impossible to lose one’s mind over it.
The best is the enemy of the good Voltaire
Excellence. We praise it, we strive for it; many are willing to pay dearly for it. The mere mention of the names of Mozart, Mercedes-Benz or Michael Jordan elicit an awed response from those who know them.
We chuckle and scoff when someone says, It’s good enough for government work.
Certainly nothing should be said against excellence, within its place, but by tying our identities to what we produce, we make ourselves vulnerable to being offended when that product is criticized. By being overly concerned with doing a thing well, we may enter a state of paralysis, and become unable to do it at all.
The person who desires to be the master of his perfectionism must become familiar with the path between failure and success. He must travel it over and over again. He needs to learn that he can try something new, look like a fool, laugh it off and try it again until he gets better. He needs to experience the exhilaration of doing something at blinding speed, barely in control, free from the worry of consequence, knowing that he can return later to fix the errors. Confidence and mastery come through doing. Another word for this is practice. Depending on the activity, it may involve fear, humility, courage, embarrassment, rejection, financial hardship or eating burnt food. It need not involve defeat, for only the one who stops striving is truly defeated.
The coach’s role in this process is to challenge the client, to remind him of past victories and stated motivations. It is to acknowledge victories both large and small, and to encourage the client onward and upward as far as his imagination will travel. It is to question unhelpful limitations, doubts long heeded, and underlying beliefs based on untested veracity. A coach asks why, and why not. Why not you? Why not now?
Perfect practice makes perfect
There is an old saying, “Practice makes perfect.” It is only partially true, for the person who practices over and over again without success becomes accustomed to failing. This is known as a rut, and it closes the door to success. By helping your client to imagine himself succeeding, you can open the door to his success. Many athletic coaches have utilized the technique of leading their players through an exercise of imagining the perfect shot, the ideal swing, the bulls-eye or the smooth landing over and over in their minds. After repeatedly experiencing this “perfect practice,” the athletes find it seems normal to succeed, and so they do.
The technique may be applied with equal effectiveness in other areas of life. Job interviews, first dates, public speaking or musical performances, if previewed in explicit detail as positive experiences before the event will typically turn out with more desirable results than if the same amount of time were to have been spent in worry and fear, thinking of the worst possible outcomes.
By encouraging the client to try new things, experiencing the entire spectrum from crash-and-burn to ideal performance, a coach can help him overcome fears of failure and rejection. He will gain confidence as he becomes familiar with the path between the despised mediocrity and the excellence he loves.
Those who suffer from perfectionism may find it difficult to work in an unstructured environment, or without clear timelines. In such a case, a coach can be invaluable in prompting the client to create his own structure and time frames.
Procrastination can make life miserable, and a project can become overwhelming. By breaking it down into less daunting parts, even the most monumental task may be conquered. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
Ask your client to set a goal. Let it be small enough that he can envision it, but big enough to scare him just a little. Make sure it is measurable, so that he or another person can observe whether it is done or not.
Challenge him to put a date on it. Without a date, he has only a dream, not a goal.
Discuss what he will do to celebrate his victory. This can be anything from ringing a bell to taking a cruise, but it is vital that he keep his promise to himself by celebrating.
An important component of goal achievement is to have an accountability partner. This is someone who promises to simply ask on a particular day or time whether the person has reached his goal. As a coach, you may fill this role, but with each goal, be certain to ask your client about whether he would be comfortable with your doing so.
When the time of completion for the goal comes, and it has been met, celebrate with him! If not, drop the subject. Either way, he will need to set another goal immediately. It is OK to schedule in a break, but urge you client to avoid the mistake of waiting to set another goal.
A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for. Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
The perfectionist may find the whole concept of goal setting to be a horrifying idea because if, of course, he misses his goal he may be thought to be wrong, lazy, foolish or otherwise imperfect. He therefore trudges along without a clear goal. Meanwhile, the non-perfectionist may set and miss several goals, but in the process achieves much more than the perfectionist.
Dharmesh Shah, in his article,” Nine Qualities of Truly Confident People,” says that a confident person takes a stand not because he thinks he is always right, but because he is not afraid to be wrong. The courage to be wrong, to appear silly, to be thought a fraud or a pretender, has the power to break the paralysis of perfectionism.
Courage cannot exist in the absence of fear, and one who puts himself in harm’s way without feeling fear is simply being reckless. Fear is a normal response in facing the unknown, or a known and dangerous situation. Courage is the response of one whose desire for victory is greater than the desire for safety.
Humility is also necessary for the one who would be free from perfectionism. Pride in craftsmanship is a creative force, but personal pride often keeps people from admitting their mistakes and moving on. The very realization that perfectionism can stem from pride and fear may be a source of inspiration to noble-hearted individuals, serving to free them from the illusion of its virtue.
Anything worth doing is worth doing well Lord Chesterton
Anything worth doing is worth doing badly GK Chesterson
Aside from the apparent contradiction between the two quotes, it may be said that each speaks to different aspects of this issue. Chesterton emphasizes the relationship between the worth of the activity and the value of doing it well, while Chesterson seems to encourage us to complete worthwhile goals even if it means doing substandard work at first.
Of course, the first time you try your hand at brain surgery, I suspect GK and I will both be conspicuously out of town, but if you persist, I’m sure you will improve!
Rather than striving for freedom from defects, we can achieve excellence through speed, efficiency, style, purpose, or a positive attitude. Mother Theresa, for instance, became famous for caring for the poorest people in India. She had the sense of purpose and the great attitude.
What is less well known is that she developed a large organization of people to help her carry out her mission more efficiently, and at one time owned two Lear jets so that they could do it faster.
To do the best you can with what you have, and trust God for the outcome, may surprise you with results far beyond your imagination. To realize that we are flawed, that nothing we do or produce is perfect, can allow us to relax within that imperfection and strive, as do the Navajo, for beauty and uniqueness and value.
For all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God’ Romans 3:23
Git-R-Done! Larry the Cable Guy