This is a guest post by Scott Mautz. Scott is CEO of Prof0und Performance, a workshop, coaching and online training company. I highly recommend his new book Find the Fire: Ignite Your Inspiration and Make Work Exciting Again. After I read it, I asked Scott if we could run this book excerpt. You’ll find the entire book full of excellent advice.
6 Helpful Insults
Nobody’s perfect, but some people try anyway. Perfection seems like a noble goal. Managers expect employees to pay attention to detail and perform at their best. Many spouses think their significant others could strive a little harder for perfection (My wife is the one exception.)
In reality, your inner perfectionist is sucking the life out of you and your relationships. You need to squash it to find contentment and inspiration for your work and your life.
So let’s hurl some insults at our inner perfectionists, shall we?
1. “I’m gonna slap the ‘should’ out of you.”
Seriously, strike the word should from your vocabulary. When perfectionists use the word, like in the sentences, “I should go over this again to make sure it’s 100 percent right,” “This should be a lot better than it is right now,” or “I should have done X and Y,” it’s like granting a license for perpetual revisiting and remorse. Stop. Will more massaging really change the outcome? Tell yourself done is done, dammit.
“Strike the word should from your vocabulary.” -Scott Mautz
The collateral damage of your perfectionism is everywhere—don’t underestimate it.
Perfectionists tend to judge and criticize not only themselves but everyone else. The more they see their own flaws in others, the more they pick, as a sort of displacement mechanism. The constant criticism and judging isolates and distances the perfectionist from others, further exacerbating their “I must not be good enough” belief. Perfectionists are often unaware of the impact this corrosive behavior has on others. They’re assuming that everyone else is harshly judging them, so to do so as well is just the way of the world.
Expand your worldview and understand that your misplaced heat, like that of global warming, is indeed affecting the world around you for the worse.
“Perfectionists are often unaware of the impact this corrosive behavior has on others.” -Scott Mautz
Motivation. Most people talk about positive motivation, but you carefully talk about negative emotions. Why are negative emotions often overlooked or discounted in the motivational literature?
Labeling emotions as positive or negative has little to do with their value, but instead involves how they motivate us through the ways they make us feel. Negative emotions like distress, fear, anger, disgust, and shame motivate us to do something to avoid experiencing them, or they urge us to behave in ways that will relieve their effects. Although we can be motivated by anticipating the positive emotions associated with pride, such as enjoyment or excitement, often what motivates us to get something done has to do with our response to negative emotions, such as in the avoidance of shame or in an attempt to seek relief from anxiety about an uncompleted task. People who are successful in their endeavors have learned to make excellent use of the negative emotions they experience. Erroneously, my own profession has promoted the notion that only positive emotions motivate us. This is possibly a misconception based on the positive psychology movement which focuses on positive human functioning rather than mental illness, and has more to do with resilience than motivation.
“Professionally successful people are emotionally attached to their goals.” -Mary Lamia