“Well, as a recovering perfectionist …”
It was with these words that one of our colleagues started her response to a question in a recent internal meeting.
As she said it, we all laughed knowingly.
There are a few recovering perfectionists on our team who know the particular type of stress that comes with needing all the things to be just so, striving for the figurative gold stars, and doing whatever is necessary so that we don’t – God Forbid! – make a mistake.
In this meeting, we were talking about what we might offer YOU – our community – in this edition of the monthly email. We tossed around ideas:
Let’s offer them that awesome one-sheeter we have that will provide opportunity for self-reflection. Oooh, wait. We have that video we could share that will guide them through the process of having a hard conversation…
This same recovering perfectionist interrupted the brainstorming session and said “How about if we give them the gift of nothing in this email? It’s the holidays. We’re all already overloaded with too many things to do and too many worries about doing them all just right. Let’s not add to their list. If they’re like me, the last thing they need is homework and self-reflection.”
She was right.
Our work is focused on helping other people manage their energy, generate connection with others, and lead with courage. And one thing we have learned along the way is that perfectionism and too much doing:
• Sap our energy
• Disconnect us from others, and
• Reduce the likelihood that we’ll make the courageous choice
Perfectionism and too much doing are, to use a Buddhist term, the near enemies of energy, connection and courage.
A “near enemy” is a state that might appear similar to the desired quality but that actually undermines it. For example, while the far enemies of kindness include hatred and physical violence, the near enemies of kindness include pity and complete selflessness.
The near enemies of energy, connection and courage can look a lot like energy, connection, and courage – but they come from a different place and result in a different outcome.
To truly balance and recharge one’s own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy often requires less doing and less striving.
To connect genuinely and authentically with others usually involves letting go of expectations and accepting what is in the moment.
And to make the courageous choice in the face of vulnerability requires showing our flawed (and beautiful) humanity with others, even when they may disapprove or judge.
So, this holiday season, we give you the gift of nothing! No need to watch, read, complete, or reflect on anything. We simply remind you that you don’t need permission to do less and be imperfect.
Your present and imperfect self is the best gift you have to offer others because it is through presence (not doing) and imperfection (not perfection) that we generate the energy, connection, and courage we all desire.