One of the most popular interview questions is “What is your biggest weakness.” I always ask this question, because it can be very telling. Some people have obviously planned answers (“I work too hard!”). Others tell you something completely irrelevant to the job (“I’m a terrible athlete!”). The best answers are those that tell you that the candidate is self-aware and motivated to improve (“I’m very factual and serious, so I have to be careful in certain situations not to come across as overbearing.”).
I have a lot of experience hiring people. I’ve heard a lot of weaknesses. Some I can identify with, and some not. But recently, I had a candidate tell me that his greatest weakness was perfectionism. I can relate all too well. Perfectionism may not sound like a weakness, but if not managed, it can be incredibly detrimental to progress.
And I’m all about progress.
Perfectionism is paralyzing. Perfectionism causes me to say things like:
- I want to go through all the baby clothes and look for stains before boxing them up, so I’ll just leave them here in a pile.
- I need to figure out the perfect arrangement of these photos before hanging them on the wall, so I’ll just lean them here in this corner.
- I’m not sure if this paint color matches the comforter exactly so I’ll just leave the walls beige.
- I don’t have time to wash all the dishes, so I’ll just leave them.
- I don’t have time to do the entire workout routine, so I’ll take another rest day.
- I don’t have time to cook a complete meal, so we’ll get take-out.
- I’m never going to have my 20-year-old body again, so I may as well eat more cookies.
You see, when you expect to do things perfectly, it often feels like the better choice is to do nothing at all. Inaction feels better than imperfect action.
Perfectionism is paralyzing.
But like any weakness, it can be managed with planning, determination, and most importantly, self-awareness. When perfectionism rears its ugly head, I call upon my mantra:
For crying out loud, just do SOMETHING!
Something. Anything. Just not nothing.
Lately, perfectionism has been holding me down. So, I decided to kick its arse.
(The perfectionist in me does not want to publish this post without drawing a sketch of me kicking perfectionism’s arse. However, it’s late and I need to go to bed, so I must publish an imperfect post. Take that, perfectionism!)
Like many things in this life, you can’t fix perfectionism in one day. You can’t undo things faster than it took to do them. But if you just do SOMETHING, you’ll be that much closer. And it’s progress.
Here’s a couple of things I’ve done lately to conquer my perfectionism:
- Hired a nutrition/fitness consultant to help me make necessary changes
- Purchased inserts for my Franklin Covey planner. It’s been three years since I used it!
- Did Level 1 yesterday and Level 2 today of Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred
It feels great to do something.
I’ll be crossing another thing off my list tomorrow night. Stay tuned for installment #3 of “Don’t Be Cruel“.