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Confessions of a Perfectionist
By Rene Delane, Women Who Dare LLC
Published On:  11/16/2011


 "The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself."  - Anna Quindlen

Do you struggle with perfectionism?  I do.  But, over the past few months I’ve had a real breakthrough in my personal and professional life when I began to do the hard work on the inside. 

I realized that my pursuit of perfection is actually a mask for fear.  It has nothing to do with striving for excellence. It has everything to do with avoiding public embarrassment. 

The key is identifying and changing course at the line that crosses over from excellence into the paralysis of perfection. 

So, what things do we do as women to sabotage ourselves? 

The top 3 are automatic behaviors that come from cultural stereotyping.  It’s just what we accept and do without thinking.  We spend a lot of our lives validating other’s opinions and discrediting our own. 

First, consider the Good Girl Syndrome. How do you reply to a compliment? Do you credit "luck" or downplay it with doubt? Yes, me too. This one took me a long time to overcome.

TIP:  Instead, accept the compliment with a smile, direct eye contact and "Thank you!" This way you have shown gratitude to the giver of the compliment, while showing your self-confidence…with just two powerful words. 

Another roadblock, the Imposter Syndrome is common among high achievers and again is related to perfectionism.  We have a lot of company with gutsy women who have admitted it – Serena Williams, Tina Fey, Brené Brown, Sheryl Sandberg and probably someone you have stood next to sometime this past week.

TIP: Keep in mind that if you are a first-generation gender, cultural or racial minority in college or career, it’s even more common. Remind yourself of the strengths, skills and hard work it took to get you where you are today.  Celebrate them. These are your core values…the foundation of success.

Finally, Sabotaging successful women in the news or in our life with comments about hair/fashion has everything to do with external appearance and absolutely nothing to do with the title, position or honor she has earned.  We are better than this.

TIP:  Let’s examine our own thoughts and behaviors first. Let’s raise our awareness of gender-specific putdowns. Save the use of "perfection" to describe a stunning sunset, a triple chocolate cake or my favorite, the beaming smile that radiates from the face of a happy child! 

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