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Last Updated on April 29, 2018

How Perfectionism is Holding You Back (and How to Let Go)

How Perfectionism is Holding You Back (and How to Let Go)

Perfectionism always sounded like a positive word to me.

After all, what could be better than being perfect?

I cannot think of any situation where something could be beyond perfect. Yet in reality, perfectionism is a real problem because it stops people from sharing with the world the more imperfect (but still amazing!) things they create.

Are you stuck on perfectionism? It’s time to let go. In this article you’ll learn the benefits of embracing imperfection and how doing so will give you a beautiful sense of freedom.

Let Go and Reap the Benefits

Almost all the wonderful inventions that we celebrate today began in a less than perfect way.

The first iPhone, the first Space X rocket, and the first electric car were all put out in a less than perfect state. Yet, people still loved them. People still bought or invested in them. As each iteration of these products came out, they got better, so much so that if you compare the latest iPhone X to the first generation iPhone you would immediately declare the first iPhone to be nowhere near perfect.

The thing about the first iPhone, the first Space X rocket and the first electric car is they were a work in progress.

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Sure they were not perfect, but on the whole, they worked and people enjoyed them immensely. Once they were out there in the market, the feedback came in and that helped to improve the products. Imagine if Space X’s Falcon 1 had not launched; would we have seen the impressive Falcon Heavy launch?

The lessons learned from the first Space X launch led to improvements in the next launch. And now, in 2018 we have a Tesla Roadster orbiting our sun. If the engineers at SpaceX were worried about being perfect, none of this would have happened. They would still be working on the Falcon 1 rocket.

And, that’s the problem with perfectionism: it stops you from accomplishing many things that you have the ability to achieve. It prevents you from sharing with the world your ideas, your work and your craft, so you never benefit from the feedback necessary to get better; this means the world will not benefit from the amazing things you are capable of doing.

Outlined below are five tips you can use to help get away from your perfectionism so the world can benefit from the work you do.

All Great Things Began Imperfect

Most likely, our first attempts at anything will not be perfect.

It takes time to develop the necessary know-how and skills to achieve perfection–and even then, it could probably be improved upon. That should not stop you, rather this idea should encourage you. At every turn, at every attempt, you will get better. The goal is not to have a perfect version.

The goal is to create something that works, something that resonates with people, and something that will get better with time and patience and continuous effort to improve it.

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Don’t Fret Feedback

Too often people hold back their ideas and opinions because they think their idea or opinion is stupid.

No idea or opinion is stupid.

All great ideas started somewhere. The best ideas were put out into the open so that other people could provide feedback and criticize them. That is precisely how great ideas start–through feedback, the ideas evolved and got better. Holding back your idea or product until you have perfected it only guarantees it will never be perfect.

You need the feedback to make it better. Even if you find that your idea is perfect, another person’s insight may give you a new perspective on ways to improve. Or that criticism may be just what you need to motivate you! Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, said that when he told people of his idea for starting CNN, everyone laughed at him. When that happened, he knew he was on to a good idea.

Perfectionism is Really Just Fear

The truth behind perfectionism is that it is a form of fear.

This fear is most likely of criticism or dislike of your idea. The worst thing you can imagine is that your idea will be a total flop and that you will fail.

The good thing about fear is that it is a mental state, not a physical one. Any fear, especially irrational fears about perfection, can be changed and overcome by analyzing why you are fearful in the first place and recognizing the worst case scenario of putting a “less than perfect” idea out there.

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Once you realize that the worst thing that could happen is someone will criticize your work, then you will understand that really that is nothing to be afraid of–in fact, criticism is a fantastic tool to help your idea get better! This is where you learn what others think can be improved on, so that your idea will appeal to a wider audience and gain more traction with others.

Failure is Actually Fabulous

Look at any great business person and you will see a career path littered with failure.

Steve Jobs failed at pretty much everything he tried until he returned to Apple in 1997. Elon Musk has had more failures than most people experience in a lifetime. Yet, these two pioneers never gave up. They kept creating, producing and pushing forward despite their setbacks.

Life is ninety-percent failure and ten-percent success.

What matters is the ten-percent. The ninety-percent is necessary in order for you to get the ten-percent successes. So, accept any and all failures as part of your journey.

Life Is Not Perfect

We are not born perfect and we will not die perfect.

In fact, perfection is pretty much a myth.

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What one person may find perfect, another will disagree. That is just the way it is. Life is all about successes and failures, and that is how we grow and become better people, just as our ideas grow to be better from repeated failures. We live and we make mistakes and as we do so, we learn and improve.

We will never be perfect and that is the way it should be; if everyone was perfect, then it would be a very boring world. Imperfections are what make you who you are and they make you interesting and unique. Celebrate your failures and imperfections.

Perfection is Imperfect

If you feel as though perfectionism is hard to come by, you’re not alone.

Nobody, nor any idea, is perfect. Accept the idea that striving to do your very best is good enough and will eventually lead you down a brilliant path. If you have a perfectionist streak in you, try and let it go, and embrace the process of getting your idea out into the world, rather than focusing on the end result.

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Hoxmark via unsplash.com

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Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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