I’ve learned more lessons from Brené Brown about perfectionism than I can count. And I largely have Brené to thank for the progress I’ve made when it comes to the progress I’ve made with perfectionism. So I thought there would be no better time than now to share 5 life-changing lessons about perfectionism from Brené Brown.
Tune in to hear about the huge breakthrough that Brené Brown helped me to achieve and learn why perfectionism actually hampers achievement, how perfectionism protects us from vulnerability, why perfectionism is not self-improvement, the connection between perfectionism and shame as well as why it’s so important to dare greatly. I hope you enjoy this episode full of life-changing lessons about perfectionism from Brené Brown.
Note: This episode originally aired in November 2019 as Episode 158.
To view the show notes visit samlaurabrown.com/episode354.
In This Episode You’ll Learn:
- The life-changing breakthrough that Brené Brown helped me to achieve
- How perfectionism differs to healthy striving
- Why perfectionism hampers success
- The 3 tools we have in our ‘vulnerability arsenal’
- The difference between perfectionism and self-improvement
- Why perfectionism is actually a form of shame
- The reason that daring greatly is the key to overcoming perfectionism
PGSD is opening to new students on 26 October 2022:
The PGSD Process will have you getting out of your own way in your business and planning properly as a perfectionist. The doors to Perfectionists Getting Shit Done will be opening at 6am New York time on 26 October and closing at 11:59pm New York time on 1 November 2022. To find out more about the program and be the first to know when the doors open, join the waitlist here: samlaurabrown.com/pgsd.
Featured In The Episode:
- Join the waitlist for Perfectionists Getting Shit Done (PGSD) – samlaurabrown.com/pgsd
- Learn the basics of Power Planning – samlaurabrown.com/planningseries
- Sign up for daily Perfectionist Power-Ups – samlaurabrown.com/power
- Follow me on Instagram @perfectionismproject
- Episode 342: How To Plan Properly As A Perfectionist With Power Planning (full transcript available here)
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FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Hi, and welcome to another episode of The Perfectionism Project. A podcast full of perfectionism advice for entrepreneurs. My name is Sam Laura Brown, I help entrepreneurs release their perfectionism handbrake, so they can get out of their own way and build a fulfilling and profitable business. I’m the founder of the perfectionist getting shit done group coaching program, which is otherwise known as PGSD. And for even more perfectionism advice to help you with your business, you can follow me on Instagram @perfectionismproject.
This episode originally aired in November 2019. And I wanted to post it again on the podcast because not only was that three years ago, so it’s buried quite deep in the archives. But Brene Brown is such an incredible teacher when it comes to shame and vulnerability and perfectionism, which are all highly related. And I think this is really important stuff that you know, on your perfectionism journey. And this is also one of the most popular episodes of the podcast, as well. So I’m sharing it here again.
And I want to mention too, that in this episode, like the whole podcast, every episode, I talk about getting into the growth mindset, getting out of your own way, releasing your perfectionism handbrake, and I wanted to mention that the process for that that kind of embodies everything that I talked about in this episode that I have learned from Brené, and that I have learned from my own journey with perfectionism and coaching hundreds of perfectionist entrepreneurs on how to get out of their own way.
The process for that is to plan properly as a perfectionist, follow through 80% of the time, rest without guilt and repeat. And that embodies everything that you need to do to get into a growth mindset and release your perfectionism. And so I wanted to invite you to watch the Planning series that I’ve created. If you haven’t already, you can go to samlaurabrown.com/planningseries to sign up for it. And it’s going to teach you the basics of power planning. If you prefer to listen, rather than watch, you can go to Episode 342.
And that episode is an audio of that series, and is going to familiarize you with that power planning. I also recently got a question about if there’s, you know, everything written out somewhere, and the most thorough explanation that you can find about power planning, outside of PGSD, because that’s where you can learn it in depth and master it is to go to samlaurabrown.com/episode342. That’s where a full transcript is of the Planning series.
If you find it easier to read things, rather than just listen, that’s going to be helpful for you as well. So I invite you to watch or listen to that series, because that is really going to help you when it comes to the practical side. Because planning properly is the first step to get out of your own way. But here is the episode where I share five of the really life changing lessons that I have learned from Brene Brown about perfectionism.
I couldn’t be more excited to record this podcast episode for you today, because I am talking about five lessons I have learned about perfectionism from the one and only Brené Brown, there’s a very good chance that you are familiar with Brene. I have talked about her before quite a lot on this podcast. And a lot of people are familiar with her due to her very popular TED Talks. And also a few of her different books she’s had have been really huge successes, but she is a shame and vulnerability researcher. And because perfectionism is so connected to shame. She talks about perfectionism quite a lot.
I have learned so much from her about perfectionism, I would say, her and Carol Dweck, and I’m going to do an episode on the lessons I’ve learned about perfectionism from Carol Dweck soon, but those are the two women that have taught me the most about the perfectionist mindset, who’ve made me really understand that that’s what I’m experiencing. And that’s totally okay. And that there is actually a way to overcome that mindset and get into the growth mindset, which is really what Carol Dweck teaches. And I really identify so much with perfectionism being the fixed mindset.
And the key to overcoming perfectionism being that growth mindset. But in terms of Brene, she really helped me identify the connection between shame and perfectionism. And I’ve had some very, very life changing aha moments after listening to Brene. Sometimes you just need to hear the right thing at the right time when I had one of my biggest aha moments, probably in my life. I had already heard what Brene was saying before, I had literally heard her saying it the same way she was saying it before. This is why I’m such a big believer in listening to content that you resonate with multiple times and at different stages in your life and in your personal development journey.
Because sometimes something that won’t resonate with you or it maybe does resonate but doesn’t create a big breakthrough for you might later at a certain point in time with other knowledge and self awareness that you’ve gained actually lead to a huge breakthrough moment, which is what happened to me. I go into this n episode 22. That episodes called how personal development helped me overcome self doubt. So I’m not going to go into it too much in this episode. But I do want to briefly share this. You might have already heard me share this if you are a longtime podcast listener. But either way, this was such a huge revelation for me, and really helped me get over a lot of my feelings of inadequacy.
And I think that feeling like you are good enough is about not just intellectually knowing that you are good enough, because I think we all intellectually understand that. But it’s about really getting it. And this breakthrough had really helped me get it. So I realized with the help of Brene, and just listening to her being interviewed by Oprah on YouTube, I realized that I had felt ashamed about my mom passing away, she passed away from breast cancer when I was 11. And for the longest time after that, basically between the age of 11, and the age of when did I have this breakthrough, I must have been 26. I had thought that the reason that I would cry whenever I thought about it or talked about it, I thought that was grief.
And really at other personal development events I’d been to they had seemed to say as well like this, like, it seems to be grief, now that they’ve been analyzing me. But the understanding was that this was an issue of not having processed grief. Maybe that was the case. But what really helped me was I can’t remember exactly what Brene had said, that made this just click. But I realized that I actually felt ashamed. And I didn’t know that I had felt ashamed about it. Because what does that have to do with me that she had breast cancer and passed away? Like, why would I feel ashamed of it?
There’s nothing intellectually in my mind, to feel ashamed about in that situation. But as a child, my brain had made up a story. And this happened without my conscious thought around it, this story that I had been left, and this story that I wasn’t good enough to have a mum, obviously, intellectually, doesn’t make much sense. But as a child, that’s where my brain went. And that belief system carried on with me into my adult life completely unchecked. I wasn’t even aware that it was there. I had this sense that I wasn’t good enough.
But I couldn’t really put my finger on why it was that and I like, probably, you experienced something similar that I had so much self belief in terms of my potential. But at the same time, I had so much self doubt, it was really challenging to reconcile the two, like, why do I really believe that I’m capable of achieving great things, and yet, at the same time, I really don’t believe I’m capable of achieving great things, and that I’m so flawed and so inadequate. And when I had that realization, that it was shame. It was just the most incredible experience that one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. It was like the negative self talk, just dissolved, not all of it.
And I’m not saying I don’t have it anymore. That’s not true. It still goes on. But I just had this constant chatter in my head about not being good enough. And once I realized that, I was feeling shame, and that there was actually no reason to feel shame. It just dissolved so much of that. And it just started to dissipate. And in that situation, I think it was helpful for me that intellectually, I can see, okay, there’s no reason to feel ashamed about that. And you might be thinking, Okay, well, there is a situation though, that someone did literally reject me or abandon me or say, I wasn’t good enough.
But even so it’s always a story that we have that it means something about us and our worthiness. And as humans, we are designed to crave that connection, it’s what helps us stay alive is what helps us thrive. And it’s such a primitive thing to want to have that connection. And that means as well, shame, which is the other side of connection is just part of being a human and we all experience it. And is always a story that we have that our brain is creating. It’s making that meaning around a certain situation.
So even if there is a situation where someone literally said, I don’t want you, you’re not good enough or whatever it is for you. That doesn’t mean you have to feel ashamed about it. But for me, seeing that I felt ashamed and that that didn’t make sense. and just was such a breakthrough for me. So if you want to hear more about that I share some other breakthroughs I’ve had. Episode 22 is where I dived into a few of those ones. But I really am so grateful to Brené, and that I was able to watch her on YouTube. And it just kind of all clicked into place.
Even though I already had heard what she’d said. I just along with some other realizations I’d had in my own life. It just, I heard at the perfect time, and it just all clicked. And so that is part of the reason I love Brene. Also, I love her accent. I pretty sure she’s from Texas. But also she is just incredible in terms of practicing what she preaches. She talks about Daring Greatly and vulnerability, and I think she displays and a tremendous amount of courage and what she does, and of course, she’s human. And it’s all the same fears that we do. And I’m sure there are times as well where she isn’t courageous.
And that’s completely okay. But I just think she’s such a great example of what she teaches. And that’s why I really wanted to share on this podcast episode with you five lessons that I have learned from Brene Brown, and I actually haven’t read most of her books, I have them sitting on my shelf, I’ve just been reading so many different books lately. She has a book called The Gifts of Imperfection, which I think is most relevant probably to perfectionist. I haven’t even read it yet. But I have read Daring Greatly, which I dived into in Episode 59. So there will be some overlap between this episode and that one. But I think what she teaches bears repeating.
And I’m also going to be sharing in a slightly different way because that episode was really about taking what I learned from the book, and sharing some of those insights that I got. And as well that was I think over a year ago that I did that episode. So I have learned a lot since then, as well. But I’m gonna get into five lessons from Brene Brown about perfectionism. The first one is that perfectionism is not about striving for excellence, and that perfectionism actually hampers achievement. This is one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about perfectionism.
It’s that perfectionism is what creates success and a lot of perfectionist are really scared to let go of perfectionism because they think that if they stop being a perfectionist, they won’t achieve as much. And if they don’t achieve as much, they’ll be even less adequate. And it just seems like since perfectionism for most of us works so well in school and Union College and in these academic settings, especially if there is a last minute there is a deadline for things that we think, well, that’s actually, even though it’s not perfect, because there’s burnout, and the stress and the procrastination and the guilt, at least other people are giving me praise for what I’m achieving.
But this is a quote from Brené about that. She says, perfectionism is not about striving for excellence, or healthy striving, and she says, I’m all for that. But perfectionism is actually a defensive move. It’s a way of thinking and feeling that says, if I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize shame, blame and judgment. I really want that to sink in. And even if you’ve heard me or others say that before, to really recognize that perfectionism isn’t about healthy striving, and striving for excellence.
A lot of people get that confused, particularly since perfectionism seems to be most people’s go to answer when they enter a job interview, and they say, What’s your biggest weakness? People say I’m a perfectionist. But perfectionism isn’t about having those healthy standards for yourself and really improving yourself. I’m going to talk more about self improvement in a little bit. It’s really about wanting to cover up any inadequacies that we have, we want to be perfect. And we strive like we have those crazy high standards, because we believe that if we were to attain those crazy high standards, that we wouldn’t have to feel the shame, the blame and the judgment.
So I really want you to recognize that because it’s so easy to get that confused and to hold on to perfectionism, even though it’s not helpful to do so. If you were believing that perfectionism is going to be creating success for you. Like yes, again, it may have worked in the past in some situations where you did have those perfectionist tendencies. And then on the end of that you did receive praise and approval or the good grade or whatever it was, but most of the important things in life don’t have a deadline, which means if you’re always waiting to the last minute, which is what most people actions tend to do, you’re never going to get shit done ever.
And also, that if you are having those excruciatingly high standards for yourself, that doesn’t actually make us strive. When we have those high standards, we go into all or nothing when and say, Well, I can’t even get close. So what’s the point in trying, really recognize that if you have those high standards is probably making you do even less. It’s like, if you have a to do list with 50 things on it, you’re probably gonna get less done than if you just had two or three things. Because it’s like, Oh, my God, there’s so much to do, I don’t even know where to start. So there’s no point doing any of it at all. I know for sure that you have had that experience before.
She also says perfectionism is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis or missed opportunities. I love what she says about life paralysis. I think that’s such an incredible phrase, because that’s what perfectionism does. It stops us from actually living our life. It makes us overthink, and be really indecisive, which means we’re not taking very much action, it also makes us procrastinate. Also, it makes us people please, which means we’re saying no, when we want to say yes. And yes, when we want to say no, it really causes us to miss those opportunities. And it’s really what leads to regret.
And you know, they say that one of the biggest Regrets of the Dying is thinking about, you know, I wish I would have actually shown up in my life and that I didn’t care what they think and all of that kind of thing. But it’s perfectionism, that leads to that regret. It’s all of those perfectionist tendencies we have that create a situation that we will most likely regret when we are older and we’re looking back on our life with all of those wisdom, all that wisdom that we will have at the end of our life and being like, Why did I give a fuck? It’s perfectionism that makes us give a fuck and not in a hopeful way.
She also says the fear of failing, making mistakes, not meeting other people’s expectations, and being criticized keeps us outside of the arriva. Arriva not arriva arena where healthy competition and striving unfolds. So basically, it’s really the opposite of healthy striving. Because when we have those perfectionist tendencies, we are scared of making mistakes and failing, we’re scared of letting others down, we’re scared of letting ourselves down being criticized. So instead of actually going, Okay, I’m going to really show up here and give it my all, we go, okay, I don’t even want to go in the arena whatsoever.
But often, we don’t do it in such a blatant ways that we go, Oh, I’m too busy, I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough money all I’m actually working on this other thing at the moment, we get distracted by the shiny object. That’s because we have the fears that come along with perfectionism, those fears of making mistakes failing, which is why having a growth mindset is so important because a perfectionist intellectually understands failure is important. Someone in a growth mindset, which is at the other end of the spectrum, actually embraces failure and mistakes, they have a completely different story about it.
So if you can relate to this, I just want to put into one of my previous episodes, I recorded episode 57 on seven differences between high achievers and perfectionist if you’re really feeling like no, but I feel like if I was to let go of perfectionism, I would really not be achieving anything. Go and have a listen to that one because I really go into what is different between a perfectionist and a high achiever, AKA a perfectionist and someone who’s in a growth mindset. So you can just see Okay, which one of them may in and if you are falling into the perfectionist category, which of course is okay, then you can identify okay, what changes do I need to make to become a high achiever?
Even if other people like yes, you’re so successful, and you’ve got it all figured out, you know for yourself, that that doesn’t feel amazing, because even though you’re externally successful, you have the negative self talk, you feel like an imposter you feel inadequate. So being a high achiever is about Yes, achieving success and probably a lot more external success. And you could as a perfectionist, because if you’re not afraid of failing and mistakes, you’re actually willing to give so many more things a go. But if you have that, I’ve lost my train of thought. If you have that growth mindset, you are actually able to really just experience so much more of life.
And yeah, it’s not just about that external achievement. But when you are in that mindset, that growth mindset, you’ll actually appreciate yourself, you’ll actually feel proud of yourself, you’ll actually feel accomplished. If you’re a perfectionist. What will happen is as soon as you achieve a goal, you’re already on to the next one, you don’t even give yourself a second to be grateful for yourself and for what you’ve achieved and to stop and to smell the roses. I’ve actually noticed this. In our perfectionist getting shit done membership community, we have a section in the forum called share your wins. And all of the women who shared wins.
Basically, every time it’s disqualified or qualified with this statement of this doesn’t really feel like a win, but I feel like it should be so I’m going to share it and really, it’s about they still don’t yet feel like they even deserve to praise themselves for the progress, which is such an important way to get in the growth mindset to praise, progress and effort. But it’s like this idea of a well like I have to share a win. It has to be a really big win and this huge outward success. But a win is a win. And when we have that perfectionist mindset we refuse to acknowledge it. And that doesn’t actually help us achieve anything more.
We think that oh, if I just beat myself up enough, I will and like, I don’t want to praise myself because if I praise myself too much, I’ll get complacent. I don’t want to be grateful, because then I’ll stop striving. But if you are grateful, you will achieve so much more, and you’ll feel fucking good about it too, instead of feeling miserable. So that’s my first lesson from Brené Brown, that perfectionism is not about striving for excellence. It’s really a defensive move, and it hampers achievement.
The second lesson from her is that Perfectionism is a 20-Ton Shield. So in Daring Greatly, and other work that she’s done Brene talks about how we have this vulnerability arsenal, basically, these different methods of avoiding vulnerability and shame. So she talks about three, we have perfectionism, we have foreboding joy, and we have numbing. So numbing is basically distracting ourselves from feeling our feelings and from our life, and foreboding joy. I think a lot of us have done this, it’s where you’re in a situation where you just feel so happy, such as sense of true pure joy.
And then your brain immediately starts imagining the worst case scenario. I know, actually, that I do this, I don’t know if I’ve talked about this or not, every time I travel, and I have a trip coming up. My brain basically is like, you’re not going to make it home every time. And I’ve traveled a lot. And there’s a lot of evidence that isn’t true. But my brain just goes out, I really think it’s that foreboding joy, you’re just like, that’s too good to be true. And it’s not going to work out for you. And this is why it’s so important to not believe everything that you think because those thoughts are very convincing.
But to just be aware that you might have that experience of foreboding joy as a way to avoid vulnerability. Because as crazy as it sounds, and I really learnt this from Brene, that joy is the most vulnerable emotion that is, and most of us are not very good at actually feeling it and sinking into it because it feels like if I actually experienced that true pure joy fully, then I’m going to feel devastated when it gets taken away. So it’s better to just preempt any kind of disappointment. And to preempt that heartbreak so that it doesn’t feel as bad.
And I think I spoke about this more in the episode I did on Daring Greatly how she shares some great examples of how foreboding Joy doesn’t actually work for us. And even if we are trying to worry about things we really feel I know this is true for me that worrying feels like it’s actually serving a purpose and that it’s going to prevent something that is preventative, but it doesn’t actually work. And even if we’ve worried it doesn’t actually make that outcome we were worrying about feel any better. It doesn’t actually soften the blow even though we tend to think worrying does and if we worry about something enough that if it happens, we’ll feel better about it.
No, it’s so fucking sucks. And we miss out on all of that opportunity up to that to feel really good as well. So she talks about perfectionism being a 20 ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from being seen. I like to think of this in that perfectionism is denying us of the very connection, we think it will help us obtain. We want everything to be perfect and to look perfect so that other people will like us and so that we will be connected to them.
And yet it is this striving for perfection, which makes us hide our true selves, because we’re not perfect. That actually denies us of the connection we want to have with other people. Because even if we’re connecting with them, and they like us, they don’t like the real us. They like the version of us that we have created that we think will please them. So perfectionism really is denying us of the connection that we think it’s helping us to actually obtain. And I love I found this quote in daring greatly.
Brene said in all of my data collecting, I’ve never heard one person attribute their joy success or wholeheartedness to being perfect. And we all hear all the time. No one’s perfect. And done is better than perfect and all of that. And the reason I created this podcast is because I think that yeah, we all know that but it doesn’t help to keep hearing that over and over again. And there’s a different approach that needs to be taken than just having that intellectual knowledge. But I always think as well It’s just helpful to have that reminder that it’s not even about perfect doesn’t exist. It’s about even if it did, it wouldn’t actually create all of the amazing things we think it would.
And it wouldn’t actually help us avoid shame either. Shame is a human experience and emotion and that is unavoidable, regardless of perfection. So the third lesson I have learned from Brene, about perfectionism is that perfectionism is not self improvement. And I have a quote for you, she said, perfectionism is at its core about trying to earn approval. Most perfectionist grew up being praised for achievement and performance, like grades, manners, rule following people pleasing appearance, sports.
And somewhere along the way, they adopted this dangerous and debilitating belief system. I am, what I accomplish, and how well I accomplish it, please perform perfect. She said healthy striving is self focused, how can I improve, whereas perfectionism is other focused. What will they think and she said, perfectionism is a hustle. I agree with that so much. And I just want to clarify, because I know that this the personal development podcast, and you might listen to that and think, I really am self focused in my striving, how can I improve.
But if you are trying to improve, so that you’ll be successful and get praise from others, also, that you’ll be more attractive and get praise and love from others also, that you’d be more smart and get praise and love for others, or to lead or have a successful business and get more praise and love from others. It’s still been other focused, healthy striving is really, really self focused. And I would say that, for me, some way that I feel I’m really striving in a healthy way, is with tennis. I’ve spoken about this, but I’ve gotten back into tennis I play now most days of the week.
And there’s no kind of other that I’m trying to get better at tennis for it’s really for me and for the satisfaction of playing tennis well. And it’s not about what other people will think, or any of that kind of thing. It’s just from this really pure place. And I just love playing it. And I love learning about it. And I don’t have my self worth attached to how good I am at tennis. And that means I can hit a ball over the fence, and still not feel bad about myself. And so I think for all of us, we have areas of our life where we are striving in a really healthy way.
And it’s when I think the best way to identify that is when you fail and make mistakes. What do you do? What’s your self talk? Like, if it’s healthy striving, you’re gonna have positive self talk around it, which is that growth mindset, kind of talk about the lessons that you’re learning. And when you’re in a growth mindset, you actually like challenges. Perfectionists don’t like being challenged. They don’t like obstacles, they want this smooth journey to success. And any kind of obstacle or hindrance is a deterrent. Someone in a growth mindset really enjoys the process, and they enjoy making mistakes, because it means they still have so much to learn, and they love learning.
So I just wanted to clarify that because you might think, no, I’m listening to this podcast, I love learning. I love improving myself, and it’s just for me. But if you love learning, that means you actually love mistakes and challenges and obstacles. So instead of thinking do I love learning, think about how much do I love mistakes and obstacles? Truly, it’s not about intellectually going Yeah, I know. It’s a lesson. It’s truly, how do you think about that it’s such a good test of your mindset in terms of fixed or growth. Where are you on that spectrum, it’s not black or white, and you have a different mindset in different areas of your life.
But for those of you who I know love personal development, it can either be easy to think I’m actually doing this for me when it might not be the case. And there’s nothing wrong. If you’re doing it for others, and wanting love and approval and all of that it’s there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s just so helpful to be aware of it and that wanting to be perfect is different to improving yourself. The fourth lesson from her is that perfectionism is a form of shame. So her quote is that perfectionism is not a way to avoid shame. It’s actually a form of shame, where we struggle with perfectionism, we struggle with shame.
Let me repeat that last bit again, where we struggle with perfectionism, we struggle with shame. If there’s any area of your life where you are trying to have everything be perfect, or you’re procrastinating a lot. You are struggling with shame in some way. And of course, there’s other ways that change comes up. But it’s so great to see, okay, this actually isn’t just about me wanting things to be perfect or I know some people say, Oh no, I just like things being perfect. So they’re nothing’s wasted and no time is wasted. But really, that’s just a cover for the shame they would feel if they wasted things. But have a think about the areas of life you struggle with shame.
And perfectionism the most, it is probably probably going to be academics or business or things that are intellectual, as I mentioned before, in that Brene Brown quote, that a lot of perfectionist have really learned that behavior because they were praised for achievement and performance while growing up. And it’s those kinds of praise and approval, that put us in a fixed mindset, you can actually put someone in a fixed or growth mindset. And if you praise someone, for how they look, or the results, they got those things puts on in a fixed mindset where then they stop actually wanting to put themselves out there and make mistakes and let things be messy because they began associating.
Okay, get praise for the result, and the process doesn’t matter. And it’s better to, to not try than it is to fail. Whereas someone in a growth mindset, if you praise effort, and you praise courage, those things actually get someone to show up. So I’m not going to talk too much more about shame, because the last episode before this was all about how to stop a shame spiral, how to develop shame, resilience, and I shared Brene’s process for shame, resilience, and developing it in that episode.
And that’s really what inspired this episode. Because I’ve learned so much from Brene and even though I’ve talked about it in different episodes, I really wanted to have it all in one place. So go and have a listen to episode 157 after this one, it will be incredibly helpful. The fifth lesson I have learned from Brene about perfectionism is to overcome perfectionism, you need to dare greatly. Of course, the title of her book is Daring Greatly. But really, that’s about being willing to feel vulnerable and let ourselves be seen our true selves be seen.
And she talks about vulnerability really being uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. And, of course, it doesn’t feel good to put yourself in uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. But that is what we need to do in order to overcome perfectionism and live a wholehearted life, which is what she really talks about. In my eyes when she talks about living wholeheartedly that includes being out of that perfectionist mindset. She also says failure needs to be an option in the sense that when failure is not an option, we can forget about learning creativity and innovation.
And I think this is so relevant for perfectionist I’ve seen this in our PGSD community when there is an impossible goal or just a goal that someone’s working towards if you don’t know what an impossible goal is, to a certain type of goal that’s designed for personal growth. But there’s an impossible goal. And that person is working towards it. And in their head failure is not an option. If they are potentially going to fail, it’s better to just give up and spare themselves to disappointment and shame and effort and perfectionist hate wasting effort because they see effort as a sign of inadequacy.
But if you do that you forget, you can forget about learning creativity and innovation because it’s only when failure is an option that you’re actually able to truly learn and be creative and innovate. So I just want to remind all of you in PGSD, for your goal is to make sure that you are willing to fail at it. The whole point of that goal is to teach you how to get comfortable with failure. But if you are not willing to not fail, wait to get that right, you have to be willing to fail. Otherwise, you will miss the lessons, you won’t be creative and you won’t be innovative. Most likely, if you’re not willing to fail, you will quit which by the way is failure.
So I know it’s something that takes time to learn because we are so conditioned to get the A+ and that if you’re not going to get an A+ don’t bother. But if you can begin to be willing to let life feel messy and uncertain. And to have that emotional exposure that’s when you’ll really start to feel connected to yourself and to others and to really be fully engaged with life. So I think for me Daring Greatly is about this idea of it’s better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all. Perfectionist know that same and they believe that same but they don’t live bid they live, it’s better to not try then to fail.
So I really want you to have a think about, is there anything lately where you have quit it because you’re failing. And of course, sometimes you might need to change your strategy and all of that. But of most of the time we meet the first obstacle and we throw our hands up and quit. So really thinking about how can I actually live that quote, we hear all the time that it’s better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all, which means really giving it a go, putting in a full effort, being courageous, being willing to look stupid to look like a fool to look like you have no idea what you’re doing to have other people comment on it.
That’s what Daring Greatly is. And I just want to finish off by saying as well, Brene talks about really showing up and being in the arena of life. And something that can be helpful to think about as well that she teaches, is to only really take feedback from those who are in the arena alongside you, to use his arena analogy, a lot of the times the people who are criticizing and judging people who are sitting up in the stands, and who aren’t actually giving it a go.
And it’s a different experience to be in the arena. And so I love how she talks about having that really be a filter. But then, at the same time to also not listen to everyone in the arena, she talks about, she has a little tiny piece of paper. And she’s written down on that piece of paper that people’s opinions she actually cares about. And it’s a very, very short list. And that’s a filter for her when she’s getting feedback, particularly because she’s in the public domain. And a lot of people have a lot of opinions that she can see, okay, who is this feedback coming from?
A lot of us tend to take feedback on equally regardless of whoever is giving it to us. But we then end up taking advice from people who aren’t actually living it, for example, it’s like taking relationship advice from someone who’s single or doesn’t have a great relationship. And I’m not saying these people don’t have great advice, but it’s just important to look at the messenger. And I love how she talks about looking at who else is in the arena with you. Because I know for sure, business is such a great personal development tool. And I think if you’re sitting in the stands, business looks easy. And a lot of people have opinions on business and what it’s like, and then most of the time those people never start businesses.
But if they do they experience that it is such a great personal development tool meaning that it will bring up all of your thoughts and beliefs that you need to work on. And so when I’m getting advice from people, I get a lot of unsolicited advice, particularly, I just have a look at are they in the arena alongside me? Are they really they don’t have to be doing what I’m doing. But are they actually going all in on their life? Or are they just sitting in the stands. And that doesn’t mean I’m not going to learn from what they say, if there’s something to be learned, but it’s just a great filter.
And if you are feeling like you take on a lot of other people’s opinions, this could be a great one for you, as well as doing that exercise of getting a tiny little piece of paper and writing down like whose opinion do I actually care about, and really limiting that number of people. Which doesn’t mean you’re going to be rude to anyone or disrespectful. It just means that you don’t give away your power to anyone who’s willing to share an opinion.
So I hope that has been insightful for you to hopefully learn a bit more about perfectionism and what I have personally learned from Brene Brown when it comes to perfectionism, but really I want to make sure you know that there’s nothing wrong with being a perfectionist. Yes, it does make us self sabotage and all of that. But having a perfectionist mindset isn’t something that’s fixed, you can change your mindset. Perfectionism is simply a set of beliefs and beliefs can be changed. So there’s nothing wrong with being a perfectionist and staying that way your entire life. And there’s nothing wrong with getting out of perfectionism. If you choose to overcome perfectionism that doesn’t make your past self wrong.
A lot of times, it’s crazy the way our brains work, but we want to be consistent with ourselves. And it’s almost like if we evolve, we are saying that our past self wasn’t doing it right and making them wrong. So I want to make sure that you recognize it if you choose to go along this journey, overcoming perfectionism, that doesn’t mean your past self is wrong for having that mindset. And it’s so important to recognize that you develop this mindset out of necessity.
As a child growing up, it did serve you the reason and that we hold on to it is because it serves us in so many ways. But it also denies us of so many incredible opportunities and experiences. And if you’re willing to really show up on this journey, and it’s going to be messy and uncomfortable and uncertain, there’s no quick 123 formula. It’s really about learning how to feel vulnerable to actually be seen by others as your true self. I love the work we’re doing in our perfectionist getting shit done community together to overcome perfectionism.
And I think it’s such a incredible pursuit. And it is a pursuit. I don’t know if there’s a point where those thoughts completely leave. I don’t think there actually is. But I think it’s a great journey to be on. I’m so grateful to be on it myself and for all the experiences I’ve had, because it’s allowed me to teach what I teach. I’m still on this journey alongside you, and I’m doing my best that I can to guide you and to be there to support you. And yeah, so that’s all I have to say about Brene Brown for now. I hope this has been helpful and I will talk to you in the next episode. Bye.
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