Wonder what I am laughing at in this picture? Well, I am laughing at what is about to happen. Yes, I am cracking myself up – because this is what I do now, when I realize that I have just made an epic fail and my inner perfectionist is going to get her ass kicked.
Seriously. As a self-proclaimed recovering perfectionist, this is how I have learned to approach my ‘failings’.
I laugh, hard – thinking “Oh, this is going to be sooooooo good”.
Then I get to work – to make it right, to move forward and try to recover as gracefully as possible.
Here is the backstory on the epic fail that inspired this photo.
For the last several months, I have been working on a video series about how to overcome denying what you really want. I had the idea for this series about 6 months ago and had been gathering notes and ideas in a big folder for quite a while. I wrote “create video series” on my to-do list each month and slowly, I tackled the project.
But in truth, I was hiding out in my perfectionist tendencies – slightly scared to put myself out there for the world to see. Afraid that it wouldn’t be good enough. Scared of the potential judgment and scrutiny.
About six weeks ago, I got completely sick of myself.
Seriously? Was was I so stalled out? What was the worse thing that could happen?
I was sick and tired of this slow and ineffectual way of ‘trying’ to get this project done. I was sick of my scared and cautious brain holding me back and making up lame excuses. I was sick of caving into my perfectionist side.
So, I made a decision to complete the video project. And I put a completion date on the calendar. I wrote out all the steps that I needed to do. I captured each step in careful detail and then I scheduled each step on my calendar. It took exactly 3 weeks from start to finish to do the writing, recording, editing, re-recording, uploading and publishing.
There. It was done. It was live and I was thrilled.
And in that process of taking all that action, I had to literally say ‘no’ to my inner perfectionist over and over again.
Here is what I mean by that – there were so many times that I just didn’t feel like working on the videos, so many times that I was bored with myself because I thought it wasn’t good enough, so many times that I was nervous and scared. And I kept having to tell myself NO – Stay in this. Keep going and finish.
So, I did. I worked through my negative emotions (unmotivated, scared, worried, nervous, bored) and got it done. Yes, I did cave some into distraction now and again, but big picture, I was pretty impressed with myself.
Katie = 1. Perfectionist = 0.
Now the video series was out there and my real emotional work was just about to begin.
My thoughts were going into over-drive…
“Would women want this?” “Had I remembered everything?” “Was it any good?” “Was it full of mistakes that I just didn’t see?” “Maybe, I should have waited.”
My emotions were all over the place.
Pride. Fear. Worry. Anxiousness. Excitement. More Fear. Self-judgment. Nervousness.
Then I got a kind note from a woman who let me know that she had signed up for the video series, was excited to get it and was still waiting for it. The video series never arrived in her inbox. She let me know that it was NOT a great first impression so far, with frowning emojis and everything!
OUCH. Epic Fail.
“See, I told you that you shouldn’t have made this.” “What were you thinking?” “This is a disaster.” “Everyone is going to know that you can’t do things right.” “This woman is going to tell everyone you are a fraud!” “I need to go back to my corporate job.”
More negative emotions…
Panic. Anxiety. Embarrassment. Fear. Worry. More panic. Dread.
Those feelings made me want to run – out of my house and down the road and never come back.
In that moment, I had a choice.
I could let those negative emotions consume me and take me down or I could decide to get back to work.
I sat back down at my computer. All those negative thoughts and emotions were still with me.
I was vibrating negativity in such a big way that I was almost visibly shaking.
Deep breath. Another deep breath. Find the mistake. You can do this. It’s just technology. Breathe. Keep going. The world is not going to end.
I found the glitch and I fixed it. It took less than 5 minutes.
I started laughing. Seriously deep laughter. Perfectionist ass kicking just happened.
I was literally ready to run away and thought the world was ending, because I had made a mistake that took only 5 minutes to fix.
That is what panic and fear and embarrassment can feel like. It can feel like the walls are closing in – the end is near and that you are going to die. It’s completely brutal. And here is the funny part – all that emotional energy is created by what we think and we allow ourselves to think some pretty crazy thoughts.
As I kept laughing at myself and the 5 minute fix, I wrote back to this super awesome woman and thanked her from the bottom of my heart for sharing her disappointment with me. I knew that there was a good chance that she could have given up on me and that was ok – she was entitled to be disappointed by her experience with me and move on.
Regardless of what response I got back (or not), I wanted her to know how grateful I was that she had written me. Not only did it give me a chance to fix a technological issue for her and others, it gave me a chance to practice overcoming my perfectionism tendencies. And I got to kick some serious booty that day. What a gift!
Because, the more I fail and put myself out there and manage the inevitable discomfort that comes along with it, the better I get at overcoming perfectionism, once and for all.
And the better I become at overcome my limiting perfectionism, the more that I will do and learn and create and make. And a life of action is really the one I want to live.
So, a big thank you to L. for letting me know that I did not make a great first impression on you. As you can see, I got a lot from your feedback.
And in case you are wondering about the video series that inspired all of this in the first place, you can access it here. Click the link below to sign up – glitches are fixed!