“the thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of being yourself.”
somewhere along the way, i learned that being the leader = getting everything right, always. that the best leaders don’t make mistakes, don’t apologize, and always have the foresight to make the best, right, perfect decisions. that leader & perfectionist are synonymous.
of course, this is ridiculous. i’m aware. i’m mindful this is not how i want to lead. but, still it’s hard to shake this bad habit. and, that’s just what my perfectionism is — a bad habit that needs to be re-learned and practiced until new skills, new attitudes, new behaviors are formed.
in her book, brene describes perfectionism as a belief we have that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we minimize or avoid blame, judgement, and shame. it’s a shield that protects us from pain. she writes perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing really preventing us from taking flight.
oye. protecting myself from pain and shame while leading is sometimes, when i’m most honest, what i’m really striving for–the goal being a pain-free, pleasant, feel-good day. but, really. that isn’t anything. it’s not life, and it’s not real, and it doesn’t provide long-term connection, or satisfaction.
instead, real life. real connection. real courage. i’m trying to re-shape new habits by practicing self-kindness. to speak grace, love, forgiveness and understanding to myself in the same way i do for others. in my head i’m telling myself it’s ok. you’re human. we’ll figure this out. not a big deal. really, the words i say a million times to everyone. myself excluded.
oh! and, another thing. i’m paying attention to my behavior when i find myself in vulnerable leadership situations — when a teammate disagrees with an idea, or i’m unprepared when asked a question. i’ve been noticing that my first instinct is to get super defensive, and start pushing hard on matters unrelated to the situation. instead, when i find myself feeling vulnerable as a leader, i’m taking brene’s advice: don’t shrink. don’t puff up. stand your sacred ground.
a new leader in me is emerging. one in which i’m able to give and accept grace, speak truth while being both brave and afraid, and welcome the gifts that imperfection brings.