Personal Improvement Guidance On What To Do To Kick Perfectionism In The Balls
The very last question that Dan Kennedy answered at his Renegade Millionaire retreat was…
What is The Secret To Life That You Can Fit On a 4×6 Card?
He’d mentioned in the salesletter selling the event that he could fit the secret to life on a 4×6 card but he never revealed what the answer was in that letter.
Do you want to know what it is? I thought you would. He said the answer is . . .
Decide. Make a decision to do something and go do it.
The way Dan got into horse racing was the exact opposite way most people do it. Most people in that arena are lifers meaning they’ve been in the sport since they were kids. Dan made a decision and started at the ripe old age of 46 years old.
The usual path to harness racing success doesn’t include doing it weighing 248 pounds, not being in shape to do it, not living anywhere where harness racing takes place, etc. He knew all of this and still said “Fuck it. I’m doing it.”
He started and figured how to work out all the details on the path. Dan believes that he might make a mess but that he always cleans it up later.
Just about everything he’s done has been this way. He thinks this is the way things actually get done.
Decide With Blow Torch In Hand
Lee Iacocca when at Chrysler is at the ass end of a turn-around and he’s walking through the factory looking at the LeBaron and someone makes the comment, “Wouldn’t that look great as a convertible.”
Lee tells them, “Get a torch, cut the roof off, we’ll drive it around town, stop at traffic lights and see if girls look at it. If they do, we’re making it.”
This is the exact opposite of the way things get done in the car industry – you’re supposed to slog through market research, focus groups, get designers, get the lawyers harping on the safety issues – and it takes them years to get shit done. YEARS of meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting.
Iacocca’s got a blow torch. Girls check it out. Guys will like it. Let’s make it. Six months later they’re selling it.
That’s the right way to do it. Get a blow torch. Mail a letter. Go give a speech and see if you can sell it from the platform. Get your ass handed to you, learn something, and go try it again seeking improvement.
Forward Motion By Itself Will Bring You Confidence
Iacocca, on the back of driving the car around for a couple days and getting the positive feedback from people went back to Chrysler and announced to the press, the trade press, and the bankers that they were coming out with four convertibles in six months.
This led to everyone at Chrysler asking Lee how the hell they’re gonna do it and his response was, “I don’t know but I told everyone we we’re gonna do it so let’s figure it out.”
So the secret to life is to “Decide” but what gets in the way of you making a decision? That little bastard named perfectionism.
People have nutty ideas. Instead of thinking, “I’d like to perform adequately and well and successfully,” they constantly hold the thought in their mind that they must do well – you must treat them well and the world must be easy on them.
With this being the case it’s not hard to see why people live in the paralysis of analysis.
People even when they realize this is nutty hang onto this horse shit very, very strongly, intensely, and forcefully. Why? Because they’re crazy.
They’ve been behaving this way sometimes for decades since they were very young. Some not. Some people were happy children but anyone who has been drank the perfectionist ideals Kool Aid has led a rather brutal internal existence.
How would it be to be able to be happy in a world where everyone doesn’t kiss your ass and do your wonderful, wonderful bidding? What would it be like to live in a reality where you embrace uncertainty, which is the opposite of perfectionism and means you don’t know everything that’s going to happen or will happen which would be boring as shit.
Here’s 13 options I got from the presentation Dr. Albert Ellis did titled, “How To Be The Perfect Non-Perfectionist”. Choose any of these tips to increase productivity help you make perfectionism something you used to indulge in . . .
1. Write Down Coping Statements To Consider Them
You write down, “I don’t need perfect emotional health. That would be lovely to have but I don’t need it. I don’t have to be perfect. I’d like to be but I don’t have to be. And if I am sometimes imperfect or disturbed or neurotic too damn bad. I can live and still be a happy human with these imperfections.”
You also do that about your secondary disturbances – the disturbance about being disturbed when you demand that you’re perfect.
You dispute your nutty ideas and you write down coping statements and go over them.
You could also do another cognitive technique which is called re-framing where you see your imperfections in a livable light.
You show yourself that making errors and screwing up makes life more interesting and is a challenge to make fewer mistakes, rather than none.
Not being as perfectly loveable as you could be and having difficulties and problems actually makes you normal. Makes you human. If you were perfect with all your deeds and perfectly loveable you’d be the only human of that kind and you’d be very lonely in this imperfect world.
3. Teach what you’re learning here to others
You take your unsuspecting friends, fans, and relatives, all of whom think they have to be perfect one way or another, and show them one way or another that they don’t have to be.
By talking them out of their bullshit you help you help talk yourself out of your own bullshit.
4. You Write Down a Whole List of The Disadvantages of Striving For Perfectionism
There’s a few advantages of perfectionism because you do try harder, it pushes and motivates you, but it has too many disadvantages such as the fact that you’ll always be tense and anxious because even if you just did something perfectly, how do you know you’ll do it perfectly the next time and next time and next time?
With perfectionism you do try hard but you try too hard and you hardly enjoy what you’re doing. You can’t win because you can’t consistently be perfect.
This leads to many physical disabilities. More and more you see these days that when you upset yourself, when you’re in rage against yourself or other people, your whole internal physiological system gets cranking too hard and you create a tendency to have ulcers, high blood pressure, all kinds of things and your whole immune system might possibly get affected especially if you already have a disease. It’s harder for your body to fight this disease if you’re a perfectionist and upset about not being perfect.
And when you’re a perfectionist instead of being loved by others you get hated on by others because if you do perfectly well they really loathe you and they don’t like the fact that they think they have to do well because you are or else they’ll feel shame.
You also probably don’t enjoy your projects you’re working on either when you’re in a perfectionist mindset.
Preferences and desires are okay to have. Shoulds and musts need to be questioned. Commands that state that you HAVE to be perfect and wishing other people would treat you perfectly and calling them bastards if they don’t need to shift.
You dispute the musts and the shoulds, not the desires, goals, and preferences over and over and over again.
5. Get A Vital Absorbing Interest
Make this something grand and ongoing that you really like and would enjoy doing – building a business, building a family, working for a cause, etc.
But beware thinking that in this interest you have to be perfect – that you must have the perfect family, a perfect business, a perfect body, or be perfect at some sport. It would be nice to be perfect but it’s not necessary.
This interest can get you absorbed in activities that have nothing to do with your worries.
Kids model right and wrong after their teachers, parents, after their peers, etc. You can find people who are imperfect but happy and successful and model yourself after them.
There’s a famous fable about the king who wanted to be happy and he tells his wise men to scour the goddamn kingdom and find me a happy man. They had told him that if he found a happy man and wore his shirt he would then be happy. So they worked and worked and sought and searched and they finally found one happy man in the whole goddamn kingdom. They were happy to find him because the king was going to cut their balls off if they didn’t get his shirt. They told him to hand over his shirt and that they would pay any price for it. He told them, “I haven’t the shirt to my back.”
So look for someone who’s imperfect who doesn’t do remarkably well and model yourself after her or him.
7. Strongly Accepting Yourself Un-Conditionally
When you accept yourself conditionally as practically everyone in the world does you’re really saying I’m okay because I perform well in – writing, sports, public speaking, sports, etc. – and therefore I’m okay.
But this is called self-esteem and this is a great sickness – the worse sickness humans ever invented because obviously if you’re only good when you do well then what are you when you do poorly? The answer is a shit.
What’s more is that when you’re doing well you worry about doing poorly tomorrow.
This is why un-conditional self acceptance is the ultimate outcome – I am the one who does poorly and well but I’m okay just because I say I am.
I’m neither good nor bad as a person. My personhood – the I that I am – my being, my essence just exists in itself. I focus on how to improve not to make me a better person but in order to help me perform better and enjoy the results that come as a result of great performance.
I only rate what I do and don’t do but I can not be rated. Only my behavior. I unconditionally accept me with whatever imperfections I bring to the table.
8. Rational Emotive Imagery
Instead of imagining that you’re doing well which is called positive visualization and will help you do better sometimes, if you imagine yourself for example nailing a good job interview or playing tennis well, then you actually practice it in your head and this will help you.
But the philosophy behind positive visualization is still “I have to do well,” so it may make you sicker. The visualization you read about in the books is misguided because it implies that you have to do well.
In rational emotive imagery invented by Maxwell Maltz, you try to imagine the worse thing that could happen to you. You’re actually extremely imperfect and people are laughing at you and telling you what a turd you are. You let yourself feel very, very upset as you make mistake after mistake after mistake in your imagination imaging the worse and you let yourself feel very down, very depressed, very anxious, very panicked, and then work on changing that feeling to the appropriate ones like sorrow, regret, frustration and annoyance because these help you improve instead of the inappropriate feelings like horror, terror, panic, and severe depression that crucify you.
How do you do that?
By changing your thinking. You feel terribly upset and you say to yourself “I’m gonna feel only sorry and disappointed.” Then you change this to “Too bad. Tough shit. That’s the way it is. Yes, I failed again but I am not my mistakes. I’m not a rotten failure. I’m a fallible screwed up human period.”
You do this once a day for 20-30 days practicing feeling appropriately sad, sorry, regretful.
This is where you go out in public and do something foolish, shameful and ridiculous and work through not feeling ashamed.
You do something that other people would consider nutty and feel that you’re a screwball for doing. You have to know in advance that they’re going to disapprove of what you’re about to do and you make yourself do it anyway.
Of course you don’t something that’s going to get you arrested like walking around the subway naked or get you fired for telling your boss that they’re a shit, but there needs to be high stakes.
So you’d get in front of big group in public speech and deliberately ask a stupid question and work through feeling ashamed until you’re immune to it in that context.
Or you walk into a crowded drug store and in a very loud voice so that everyone can hear you and ask for a gross – a case of 144 condoms and state that since you use so many of them that you deserve a special discount.
The way to crank this up a notch is to ask for a gross of SMALL condoms.
10. Recorded Disputing
You record one of your crazy ideas onto a voice recorder you own or on your computer or get an app for your phone.
For example: When I see a woman I would like to get to know I have to know exactly what to say and say it perfectly so that she’s guaranteed to be delighted I walked up to her.
Then you dispute this nutty idea right on the recording very vigorously and you listen and have your friends and relatives listen to how rigorously you did.
You want to very vigorously look at your bullshit and very powerfully go against it. And you can even say your coping statements covered above in a very strong manner – PERFECTIONISM IS REALLY STUPID! IT WON’T GET ME ANYWHERE BECAUSE IF I KEEP THIS UP I’LL BE ACTING IDIOTICALLY! I WILL LEARN MUCH MORE BY FAILING THAN BY SUCCEEDING! MAKING POOR DECISIONS IS A HUMAN CONDITION AND I’M STILL A HUMAN, I STILL HAVE NOT REACHED GOD STATUS YET SO I ACCEPT MYSELF AS HUMAN! I’LL ALWAYS BE IMPERFECT IN THE EYES OF OTHERS AND WILL OFTEN SCREW UP!
11. Paradox and Humor
This is where you do things poorly on purpose following Oscar Wilde’s line of thinking… “Anything work doing is worth doing badly” and you accept yourself despite behaving poorly compared to others.
You can say negative things about yourself that you normally wouldn’t do. Think of good comedians here who are brave enough to poke fun at their imperfections and quirks. One of my favorite female comedy writers Tina Fey makes the remark in her book, “Bossypants” that she has “Dead Shark Eyes” in the part of the book where she’s making fun of the magazine photo shoots she’s done.
When you lose your sense of humor and take yourself too seriously you’re in a really bad place. When you get to a really shitty place you’re thinking, feeling, and behaving in a disempowering way.
To help with this you act against your perfectionism powerfully and consistently and make mistakes deliberately.
You act fast knowing it will lead to mistakes. You take risks on screwing up with friends or new acquaintances and tell yourself that whatever these people think of you is probably exaggerated if they put you down because you performed poorly they might not be the best people to surround yourself with.
You, are never your performance. You are a human who performed badly. If they really hate you or lose all respect for you then their thinking is warped and that’s THEIR problem – not yours.
12. Linger In Rotten Situations
For example you’re having a tough time getting through a course or learning a new skill set. Don’t cop out. Don’t run away because then you take your fear or your horror or your anger with you and you stay in those states of mind rather than working through them.
You stay in shitty situations where you’re not doing well until you get over being disturbed about it. Then maybe you improve or you decide that this activity isn’t for you.
If you truly suck at something you don’t have to stay with it as long as you don’t feel any shame about sucking at it.
This is where you act imperfectly, take a risk instead of waiting for everything to be perfect before you make a decision or ask someone out for a date or reach out to a new business partner, you can give yourself a reward for acting imperfectly.
You reward yourself for overcoming your resistance.
And when you don’t take risks, are copping out, are constantly seeking out productivity tips at work instead of working, or compulsively red0ing an article or blog post or preparing a speech for days and days and days or working at trying to make the chapter of a book perfect, you can give yourself a penalty, something you abhor, you make yourself do that abhorrent thing when you’ve behaved as a pussy.
You give yourself a limited amount of time to take action and if you exceed your deadline you actually penalize yourself.
Which Of These 13 Options Will You Use To Knock Perfectionism On It’s Ass?
Many things are bad but none of them are terrible or awful they’re only a royal pain in the ass.
No one is perfect as far as I know including me. If I were perfect I would probably piss people off all the time and would leave me with no variety in my life.
Perfectionism is ineffective and inefficient. Most people think that if they do things perfect they’re going to be better but they won’t. Perfectionism is the equivalent of the “someday” that never arrives.
Perfectionism sabotages happiness and very frequently leads to real panic and depression.
If you demand perfectionism of others it will ruin relationships as it’s one of the easiest ways to drive people to hatred, feuds, wars, etc.
The more you damn yourself for your imperfect behavior the more imperfectly or badly you’ll act.
Even if damning yourself prodded you on to succeed more you’ll be even more anxious and stressed while doing more and you’ll actually end up doing it worse instead of better because you’re so worried about performing without errors.
You’ll be focused on your imperfections and this could lead to you compulsively doing them over and over beating yourself over and over again into damning yourself for damning yourself and making yourself anxious and horrified and terrified and depressed which leads to you being paralyzed – an emotional cripple.
What To Do Now
So your next step is to decide and put into practice any one or a combination of these 13 strategies in your life so that you can free yourself and become the perfect non-perfectionist who is immune to criticism and praise who always loves yourself no matter how the cookie crumbles.
Let me know if you’ve got any other suggestions for overcoming perfectionism that you feel other people would be served by in the comments section below and as always feel free to leave me feedback here or in an email of how using these strategies have made a difference in your life.
Lewis LaLanne a.k.a. Note Taking Nerd #2 a.k.a. L.L. Cool Nerd
PS. If you’re intrigued by the idea of leaving your perfectionist mindset behind you so that you can kick some serious ass in business you definitely come on down to see all of the personal improvement and work productivity tips Dan Kennedy revealed during his Renegade Millionaire Retreat