Motivation, Productivity, Psychology, Relationships

Perfectionism on Steroids: All or Nothing

Are you an all or nothing kind of person? All or nothing is a perfectionism issue people often don’t even realize they have. Many people don’t realize that by being inflexible, you are really saying I want it all or nothing.

The problem with this approach is that quite often it gets you nowhere. Instead of getting to realize the gains that could come by being flexible you often end up sitting at the starting line all alone. Is that where you really want to be?

When it comes to work related issues, one of my favorite quotes is by Mark Cuban, “Perfectionism is the enemy of profitability.” The all or nothing mentality is perfectionism on steroids. Thus, all or nothing is not just the enemy of profitability, it is also the enemy of progress. And for our everyday lives, take out the word profitability and replace it with any goal. Replace the word profitability with success, happiness or any other goal you are striving for and it still stands true.

All or nothing is the enemy of ___________ and progress.

You have no idea how many projects I’ve seen crash and burn in the professional world because of the all or nothing mentality. Each and every project cost the company both a ton of money and progress. I’ve seen projects survive perfectionism, but very seldom do they survive all or nothing.

The fact is we need to be steadfast in our overall vision, we need to strive for excellence, but we need to realize the final results will vary and that is ok. And do you know what is amazing? If we open ourselves up to being flexible, we often end up with an end results that is better than our original vision. Yes better! That is one of the reasons the all or nothing train wreck is so hard to watch. It holds you back!!

We need to understand our objective, sometimes the stated objective is really not what we are after. It can distract us from being able to identify what is really important and thus where we can be flexible. You have to be able to step back and see the big picture. And when you can’t, it is like trying to navigate a dark dense forest without a map or orienteering skills. You will end up lost or nowhere.

Let’s use an example pretty much everyone can relate to, relationships. I have a friend who use to refuse to date guys based on height. What was her goal? Was she looking for someone who just looked good on her arm or was she looking for a relationship that would last? Who knows! As it turns out when she found the one, that height criteria went right out the window. So obviously, she didn’t find that criteria all that important to her real objective.

I have another friend who refuses to waver from her list for the ideal mate. She is single and the few people I’ve known her to date have all met the requirements on her list, but none of those relationships end up lasting. Could it be that by having shallow requirements, down to hair color might I add, that she is missing out on something better. That she is missing out on meeting the one who really is her one?

There is no such thing as perfect. It’s a fact. There is exceptional, there is fantastic, there is good enough and a thousand other things, but there is not perfect. We set ourselves up for failure when we decide things have to be perfect. Know what you want, strive for excellence, but open yourself up to possibilities you haven’t considered and see what happens.

I’d love to hear your experience with this topic.

Relationships, Taking It On

Cutting Ties, Can it Ever be the Right Thing

We should have an open heart, be vulnerable and compassionate.We should be able to endure; cutting ties to people for any reason is not vulnerable or compassionate. It is weak and selfish, especially if it’s family, definitely not your parents. Ok, well I’m going to call BS right there. That is a heavy load of cow dung. I unequivocally believe that you can cut ties and be vulnerable and compassionate. In addition, I believe it is sometimes imperative to do so and irresponsible and harmful to not cut ties. And I believe sometimes cutting ties is the most vulnerable and compassionate thing you could possibly do, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.

Let’s start with what it means to be vulnerable. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, vulnerable means, “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded or open to attack or damage.”  This definition is very similar to how Brene Brown defined vulnerability in Daring Greatly, “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” Ok, that is clear enough.

What about compassion? Compassion literally means to “suffer with.” This would be the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, get what it feels like to be in their situation, and to feel their pain. This is something a lot of people actually struggle with; it is not the same as being sympathetic. Sympathy is something totally different.  And are you ready for some shocking information? Researchers like Brene Brown, who have studied what it means to be compassionate in great depth and have written and taught on the subject for years have learned, that in order to be compassionate we need to set boundaries and accountability. What! Unless you have read up on the subject, I bet you didn’t know that!

So when should we cut ties versus work through it or suffer through it as it may be?  First off, this is definitely not something to be taken lightly. For me, I checked my gut, did some serious questioning, attempted to salvage the relationship by implementing boundaries, and then talked to a therapist about it. As a result, I cut ties and let me tell you it requires vulnerability.

When you make the decision to sever ties to someone, especially family, you are going to hear about it. You are opening yourself up to be attacked.  You are going to find that people who know nothing about the situation may want to judge you. You might be surprised to find that people will try to shame. It’s all your fault, what are you doing to the family, what kind of person are you to behave like this, that is your mother, you think you are better than everyone don’t you. I may not have heard all of these, but let me tell you, I’ve heard most of them and far worse. In addition, be prepared for the person you are cutting ties to, to lash out and it can be hurtful and nasty.  If opening yourself up to that isn’t being vulnerable, then I don’t know what is. The fact is you don’t have to explain yourself. People outside the situation don’t have to understand it. The only person who hasto understand it is you. And it is ok to feel bad about cutting someone out, but that doesn’t mean you are bad. That is the difference between shame and guilt. You are not defined by a single action and doing hard complicated things is well hard.

So what about compassion? Well, here is the deal, if you have struggled deeply with the question, tried every alternative, thought deeply about how people will be impacted, and still come to the conclusion severing the relationship is the best path forward then you are doing the compassionate thing.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list, but here are a few things to think about, when trying to decide…

Have you tried everything?

Have you tried just taking a break from the situation for short term?

Are there sufficient boundaries and are the boundaries being respected?

Who will all be impacted if you sever the relationship and how?

Is there any good coming from the relationship?

Is anyone in danger of being harmed physically or emotionally by allowing the relationship to continue?

Are there children involved, if so how will they be impacted?

Have you talked to a therapist or someone else unbiased and qualified to assess the situation?

Cutting ties is and should be hard, especially if you are being compassionate and vulnerable. This is not an exhaustive examination of the subject and is not intended to be the sole basis of any decision you make in your life. This is strictly one opinion on how cutting people out of one’s life can be the compassionate and vulnerable thing and is sometimes for the best.

Have you ever been in this situation? Do you have a different experience? I would love to hear other perspectives on the subject.

Tonya Signature


Parenting, Relationships, Taking It On

Are you brave enough to say YES?

I am always super quick to say, “No” and I think there are a lot of other people who can relate. Do you do it or know someone who does? I’ve come to realize it’s my armor for protecting myself when things feel out of control…which is pretty much always. This is especially true as it relates to parenting.   I can’t speak for why others do it. Interestingly enough, saying “No” all the time really doesn’t keep things from getting out of control, it just limits joy. Thus, I’ve been working on saying, “Yes” more often.

It’s kind of hard sometimes and I can feel the anxiety swelling up, but for the most part I can’t think of anything bad that has happened as a result of saying yes. Most of the results of saying yes are fun and happy times.  Such as letting AK and her friend go play on the slip and slide when it’s raining. It’s not thundering or lightening, it’s just raining. Why say no? They are going to get wet anyways. Turns out they had a blast and nothing bad happened.

Sure, go paint unsupervised! Ok, go bake some cupcake and add all the “secret ingredients” you want! As it turns out, saying yes to these kinds of things are actually quite liberating and quite good for my daughter too. She is learning to depend on herself. Saying yes to painting unsupervised doesn’t mean, yes you can go spill a gallon of paint on my carpet. It means you know the rules to painting unsupervised and I trust you enough to follow them, now go have some fun and create. Which is exactly what happened! As for the cupcakes…not one person died from eating them. In addition, I think my daughter got a little more comfortable in the kitchen fixing things for herself…heck yeah! I’d consider that a win.

There are other aspects of life I’m working on this whole yes thing…work, relationships with friends and family, and finding time for myself.  Some days and weeks are more challenging than others, but overall learning to say yes is a HUGE step in finding joy and oddly in feeling less anxiety.

Have you had any experience with this? Any tips or suggestions?