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.


Mistakes Define You or Defining Moments?

Everyone makes mistakes, it a fact of life. Mistakes are how we learn. Mistakes help us figure out what we are made of, what we are capable of, but they don’t define us. Often mistakes lead to some of our defining moments, those moments that are game changers.

The list of mistakes we make in life is endless, and we start making some whoppers at a pretty young age. The important thing to remember is doing a bad thing is different from being a bad person. Doing a stupid thing is different from being a stupid person. And so on and so on, you get the drift, right?  Often people make mistakes and they feel like those mistakes are them, but they are not. They are not unless you let them be. We all have been given this wonderful gift of free will and as such we have the ability to take responsibility for ourselves and make choices that are in line with who we are or who we want to be at any time. We don’t have to let bad choices we made, in the past or even in the recent present, be our future. That is our choice.

Sure, if you make a big enough mistake you may have some hefty consequences to deal with, that comes with the territory, but you are the one who decides how to deal with those consequences. Are you going to feel sorry for yourself? Are you going to play the if only game? Are you going to blame the source of the consequences? Or are you going to take responsibility, learn from the mistake and make a better choice next time?

When I was a kid, I was probably the kid you didn’t want your kid around. In eighth grade, I had this best friend who was everything I wasn’t. She was pretty and popular. She was funny and just so much fun to be around. We started skipping school. Then at the mall we purchased a few things like a belt, hair barrette, and wallet using the five-finger discount. Next, in ninth grade we came up with this bright idea to run away. We funded this runaway excursion with fund from bad checks we cashed at a local five and dime stores. We made it seven hundred and fifty miles from home. We used our funds to buy bus tickets. We would get stopped along the way and questioned by police, who were looking for two run away girls. We even had to stay in a couple shelters. All along the way I found myself asking, what were we going to do when we reached our destination? It occurred to me we wouldn’t be able to go to school, runaways can’t exactly register for school. I wanted out of my horrible existence, but was this really helping?

In the end, I ended up back home, in court, and on unsupervised probation for a year. I will never forget the terror I felt being questioned by the cop about the checks. My sweet grandmother, the woman who I believe I owe my life to, paid the $363.63 court costs and then it was time for me to go back to reality.

When I went back to school, I had two choices I could keep going down the road I was heading or I could pick another path. I chose to pick another path. I chose to own my consequences, suck up my current situation and do what I needed to get out. For the time being that meant surviving in order to graduate high school so I could go to college.

I knew school was my ticket out and I knew going forward I had to focus on that. Luckily for me I was able to make some new friends. Friends who walked the straight and narrow and for whatever reason were gracious enough to accept me and welcome me into their fold. I never stole anything ever again. From that point forward I knew my life at home might be bad, but school was my way out. I was going to graduate and I was going to go to college and that is exactly what I did.

Some people, some adults even, probably looked and me and saw a bad kid, a bad person they didn’t want their child around. The truth was, I wasn’t a bad kid. I was a kid trying to figure out how to survive a bad situation. Yes, I made some whopper mistakes, but those mistakes didn’t define me. Those mistakes turned out to be the first major defining moment in my life. A defining moment that put me on the path to the life I have today, a life so different from the existence I knew in my youth. And I am beyond grateful for my life. I have a good life, I life I achieved by making mistakes and learning from them.


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