Slay Perfectionism with “Good Enough to Go” Mindset for Career Momentum
As a career development and executive coach, I work with many individuals who are focused on making changes to their careers to better align with professional values and strengths. But for some, their best plans often get stalled in analysis paralysis, which results in stagnation and a hard stop to all forward momentum.
Brave, Not Perfect
If you’re looking to shake off your fears and move forward in your career, I highly recommend Reshma Saujani’s book, Brave, Not Perfect. Saujani, who founded Girls Who Code, says that, for women to succeed in the career world, it’s about more than just leaning in or boosting self-confidence – she says it’s about finding courage.
According to Saujani, “The socialization of perfection has caused us to take less risks in our careers…it means our economy is being left behind on all the innovation and problems women would solve if they were socialized to be brave.”
- Failure is allowed
- Perfect does not equal happy
- Things won’t fall apart if you’re not perfect.
- Perfection does not equal excellence
- You can make mistakes and still be successful
Saujani offers valuable strategies for building a Bravery Mindset:
- Look For Your Ledge – “Chances are there’s at least one challenge, one change, one dream quietly calling out to you that you’re afraid to step up to,” Saujani says. “I call that ledge “the scary thing” – the thing that, if we could do it, it would make a major change in our lives.” Saujani encourages us to figure out what our particular ledge/scary thing is and move towards it.
- Get Caught Trying – Saujani says that the best way to become fearless is to walk into “the fire of fear” and get used to challenging yourself, as often as possible, to take risks. As the saying goes, better to have tried and failed than not tried at all.
- Get Comfortable with Failure/ Rejection – In the start-up innovation world, there’s a well-known saying, “Fail early, fail often.” Entrepreneurs actually seek out rejection in order to learn and improve their product or service in a speedy and efficient manner. In her TED Talk, Saujani points out that “in Silicon Valley, no one even takes you seriously unless you’ve had two failed start-ups.” Learning that failure is just feedback, can help you adjust course and develop perseverance – an important attribute when moving forward with bravery.
What Are You Waiting For?
Let go of the debilitating mindset, “I’ll be ready when…” and focus on what you can actually do now. Striving for perfection or absolute readiness is unrealistic and a waste of precious energy that you can be focusing on getting something done, which you are ready for now.
Career perfection is unattainable so focus on your personal best and get comfortable being a lifelong work in progress. Be open to the paradigm that success is 10% skill and 90% collaboration and ramp up your willingness to work with others to accomplish great things.
Prototype, Test, Repeat
Design Thinking is a creative, iterative approach to problem solving that places humans at the center of the process. The Standford d.school offers a fascinating online course in design thinking fundamentals, should you wish to explore more.
I employ Design Thinking methodology in career development and leadership coaching to help clients utilize the process to try new things and test and get feedback so they can make well informed decisions on their career journey.
Getting stuck often equals being fearful about the unknowns on the other side of an equation. By prototyping, you create a representation of one or more of your ideas to show others. Think of it as a rough draft and share within your professional circle of trust and ask for feedback. What worked? What didn’t?
By repeating this process with as many new concepts that you are considering, you gain valuable insight by crowd-sourcing feedback. The process is by nature, forward moving and gives you opportunities to turn ideas into prototypes and eventually realities.
Good Enough to Go
One of the reasons I appreciate Design Thinking is that the ideation and prototyping phases of the process need not be 100% refined or polished. Ideation gives you permission to come up with multiple creative solutions to prototype and eventually test. Big hairy audacious goals are encouraged!
Seasoned designers relish the phrase, “Good enough to go!” because they know in most cases you can continue to refine the concept, product, or idea. Think of the Apple iPhone and its many iterations. I am confident there will be more to come. Rarely is something absolutely done.
The second edition of my book, “This Is Not The Career I Ordered” is new and different than the first edition and a personal example of how I finally understood that letting go of perfectionism helped me move forward. Get your good work out into the world.
Keep it Simple
Some people get stuck because they have too many goals. They get overwhelmed and shut down. Focus on small and incremental moves. Think in baby steps and how you can achieve something small and simple on a regular basis to move you towards the end goal.
Ultimately, you alone have control over your career momentum. The roadblocks to stagnation are real and debilitating so give yourself permission to consider how you can unblock and be “good enough to go” today. Ask yourself daily, “What is the single action I will commit to in order to move forward one step today?” Onward!