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.

Motivation, Taking It On

What is Stopping You from Reaching Your Goals?

You know how it is, you set your mind on a new goal and you are really excited to get started. Things seem to be off to a good start. You are making progress. Then…something happens. You hit a wall. It could be something as simple as losing motivation or something way more complex. Either way, bam the progress has stopped, the excitement is fading. Here is the deal though, no matter who the person is or what the goal is, this is going to happen, there are inevitably going to be setbacks. There are going to be to be forks in the road, obstacles that feel insurmountable, and distractions that seem to lure you away from your task at hand. These obstacles and setbacks are going to happen, they are going to happen regardless of the size of the goal or complexity. I know you don’t want to hear it, but these setbacks are part of the process.

These challenges, these rough spots along the way are where growth happens. This is where you decide to persevere or give up, where you figure out what is important to you or what isn’t. These crossroads are where you figure out who you are and what you are made of. This is where you have the opportunity to become your best self, or not, it’s up to you.

These challenges can be scary, but often the fear we are feeling is a fake out. It’s the brains natural reaction to the unknown. The brain likes the status quo, it likes predictability. When you enter a challenge or come to a crossroad you don’t know what is ahead and your brain tries to alert you to that fact.  If you get scared, this is when you have to pause and ask, what happens if I try and succeed versus try and fail? If you think about it, often the worst possible thing that could happen by trying and failing is that you end up a little embarrassed and back where you started. If money is involved, you might end up with a little less than you have today. And the best possible thing? Well, that depends on the goal. I am willing to bet it is something good, or you wouldn’t have set the goal in the first place.

The fact is you have to try.  If you try and fail you have at least faced the fear of trying. That may not sound like much but it is. It makes facing the fear next time that much easier. And that in itself is an accomplishment. Giving into the fear and not trying, letting fear win, that gives fear strength. You do not want to give fear strength, you want to give you strength and you gain strength by trying and doing.

I’ve been on all sides of this equation. I’ve tried and succeeded, tried and failed, and not tried at all. The only regrets I have are the ones where I didn’t try. When I went after my goals, I didn’t always know how things were going to work out, but hell or high water I was going for it. If I made a little mess along the way, like when I tanked my credit in college (a story for another day), fine. It didn’t matter to me. All that mattered was reaching my goal. I’d figure it out, I always did. I was often scared, but not trying wasn’t an option I would even consider. When I went after my goals I felt a sense of accomplishment, I learned I could rely on myself, I grew as a person, I built self-confidence. The more I pushed through hard times, the more I grew into a person I actually liked and was happy to be.

As things in my life got easier, more comfortable, as I started feeling like I had things worth losing fear saw an opportunity. Fear reminded me of all I had to lose and I started to give in and not try. I was scared to rock the boat. I would tell myself I was trying by making little gestures of effort, but I wasn’t giving my all. That is what happens when fear is allowed to win. It gets harder to try, harder to get past the setbacks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

What I ultimately realized is that regardless of life’s situations fear is still nothing more than a fake out. Regardless of our situation in life, we have to go after our goals. We need to take risks, we need to face fears, and we need to keep growing. For me, yes, I have more to lose, so the kamikaze approach of my youth as fun and freeing as it was, is no longer the best path forward. But there is still a path, multiple paths, there is never just one. And fear, it goes away when you confront it. The obstacles, the challenges, they may not be easy, but pushing through and finding a way is always worth it. There is only one way to move forward on any path and that is trying. The act of trying is a win in itself, so don’t hold back. Go for it. Recognize when you are at a crossroad, when the hard part is coming, when the distractions are luring you away and pause. Then brace yourself, remind yourself what you want to achieve, and keep pushing forward. Keep trying, that is how you will reach your goals and that is how you grow.