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    Entries in ish (24)

    Wednesday
    Jul172019

    What society expects of you

    In recent posts I’ve mentioned the expectations we can have:

    - of ourselves

    - of others.

    There’s a third. It’s what we perceive society expects of us.  

    - Society ... you know, other people. Them. Those people over there.

    We can worry a lot about what people think of us. What will they say? How will they perceive us? These worries can become huge filters, censors and constraints to our thoughts and behaviour. They can cause us unnecessary doubt and make us procrastinate, second guess ourselves and reject some of the great things we attempt.

    We can also worry that we ‘should’ be doing better ... or more or higher or faster or longer or neater or cleaner, than we are.

    These are the three types of perfectionism and expectations, all on the increase in the world right now:

    - Of ourselves

    - Of others

    - What society expects of us.

    All of this pressure, piling up, making us overthink, overwork, lose sleep and get stuck.

    Next time you feel stuck or find yourself judging your work or ideas, check in on which of these three types of perfectionism could be at play. 'Seeing it' is the first step to finding ways around it. 

    Wednesday
    Jul172019

    A high expectation of others. 

    I’ve been posting on 'ish', the practice of good enough and the challenges when don't know the standard we're going for. But what about others?

    Unhappy about the work someone has done for you or a service delivered to you? Perhaps it didn’t have the right information, didn’t look right or wasn’t the way you expected.

    The increasing problem the world has with perfectionism isn’t just about the standards we have for ourselves. Our expectations of others is a problem on the rise too.

    If someone hasn’t done a ‘good enough’ job, you absolutely must clarify the expectations you had ... and the expectations they had. We're not so great at doing this.

    Instead we talk due dates, timelines and deadlines with little to no regard for quality, fidelity or standard. If you 'manage expectations’ in your role, it's not just managing other people’s expectations of you.

    It’s also about you managing your expectations of them. Don’t be difficult about it. Be clear. The ‘are we on the same page’ metaphor is worth working on until you really are on the same page. 

    Wednesday
    Jul172019

    Go for excellence not perfection

    Excellence says 'good'. It's the act and output of excelling with good qualities in high degree. Yet some parts may not be excellent and these we hope will be the parts that don't really matter or those that can be improved over time.

    My mother, Shirley, put a little sign in our family home years ago that read: ‘I may not be perfect, but parts of me are excellent.’ This is what it's about! Parts of our project, task or activity could well be admirable, impressive, grand and outstanding. And other parts...may be less than that.

    Industries that have established 'Centres for Excellence' - in my local region - include Science, Child and family health, Disability, Railways, Youth mental health, and Automotive.

    These sectors know that everything isn't perfect but parts of them are excellent; the parts that matter.

    They want to improve and get better with both the parts that are already excellent and the parts that need to be a bit more excellent!  

    Let me know what you think. Could you go for something like ‘iterative improvement’ or ‘progressive excellence’, rather than trying to make things perfect?

    Wednesday
    Jul172019

    Expecting too much of ourselves

    I was chatting with a colleague today and she said she hadn’t completed a task to ‘her standards’. I enquired what the standards were. They existed in her mind but not on paper and not in writing. She'd said: ‘It has to be neat, look professional, be better than anything I’ve ever done for them before, be the best I can do, be me at my best.’

    Do you see how difficult it will be to reach each of these unmeasurable, undefinable targets?

    As she's working on her task she’s also not so complimentary about her progress. She was denigrating and rejecting it. ‘It’s just not good enough yet’, she said.

    And here it is. This is perfectionism; the ’not good enough yet’ drug.

    The drive we have to make things better because we wrongly believe: - people are paying more attention than they are, - that it matters more than it really does, and - that what we’ve done so far won’t cut it. We're too critical of our ideas, work and success.

    We berate, scold, criticise and reprimand ourselves. Repeatedly. Would we do this to another human? This harshly? I doubt it. It's time to firstly define the standard... and then be kinder to ourselves.

    Q: What are you 'beating yourself up' over right now? 

    Wednesday
    Jul172019

    Worrying if you're doing it 'right'

    Worrying if you're doing it 'right'. When we write something, share, do, show, try something new, we can be worried about whether we’re doing it ... ‘right’.

    What is ‘right’ anyway? Is it about meeting a standard or expectation ... our standard or expectation? Or is it about meeting the standards and expectations of others?

    It’s surely a conditioning from our upbringing or our school years where the reward and validation was for correct and right.

    Our fear of getting it wrong can be powerful indeed: not wanting to look foolish, not wanting to be seen as unprofessional or not wanting our reputation to take a hit.

    Rather, today, we can be encouraged and rewarded more by our effort, by trying and by getting out of inertia - that state of doing nothing or perhaps, nothing new.

    If we stay safe and only do the things we do well - our party tricks - we don’t learn. And most of all we don’t adapt so we stay relevant, employable, progressing, doing meaningful things. Worry less about 'right' and focus more on getting going and improving or iterating over time.

    Is there something you're worrying about doing 'right' at the moment?