It’s Not About Perfection

Anyone remember this game?

A few years ago, my mom was going through my “things” (what she calls stuff in my childhood bedroom), and she brought me a bag of junk (what I call that stuff). And in that bag was the game of Perfection.

I have it in my office now. I just played it earlier this week (literally and symbolically).

I reminded myself how much I despise the game yet secretly love the name and love the ambition of perfection.

The race against the clicking clock to get all those pieces in the right places before the whole thing goes “POP!”

Many days I feel as if I’m going to pop.

Is it because I’m racing towards perfection? I don’t so think, but I do know I’m trying to put lots of pieces into tiny holes all over, and I feel rushed and confused.

The holes are (now) smaller, they look and feel strange, and they are harder to find. And the time is loud, clicking by. It’s like a nightmare inspired by the game of Perfection . . . POP.

And some days, I do it. I pop.

Alone in my office, feeling frustrated, I pop.

I’m angry. I’m discouraged. I’m really, really tired of all this.

I feel as if I’ve hit a wall. And no amount of cheering myself up, deep breathing, stretching, chocolate, or coffee helps. I’ve simply hit a wall.

I read a great article recently about this “wall” in front of many of us.

If you haven’t hit it yet, congratulations, and I’m jealous. (And curious how you’ve managed to avoid or avert the wall. Please share your secret.)

Most everyone I talk to, judging from the conversations I’ve had with clients over the past month, has recently hit this wall.

I’m calling this barrier the, “Yes And” Wall.

“Yes, we’re six months in, and even though there is unemployment, illness, and strife around me, some good stuff has happened–it’s nice to avoid the commute, I appreciate my home and the people close to me each day, the planet is healing (Have you heard how clean the water in Venice is?!), and I’m watching all these shows I always wanted to see, I’m doing puzzles, I’m sitting outside in the evening, and yes, that’s all good AND I am so tired of it all because it doesn’t matter how clean the water in Venice is because I’m never going to get there!”

And that is how I feel when I hit that wall.

Rather than wallow (which, well, I do some of–how can we avoid it these days?), I am focusing on managing through.

I think the phrase “managing through” gets a bad rap.

For some reason, we think managing through means you are not doing a good job. That instead of a good job, you are barely doing the job.

I think that’s wrong.

Right now, I think about managing through as being practical, timely, and applicable.

When coaching clients these days, I’m spending less time on the long-term strategic items with them. We’re not sacrificing: we are simply spending less time on those items.

Instead, we are going through a checklist like this:

  • Decide what to do
  • Why
  • How you feel about it
  • How it connects to the “big” goal (this is part of the why)
  • Who has the skills (delegate, delegate, delegate)
  • How and when to communicate
  • How to check in

It’s about movement. Making progress.

To see progress makes us feel good. It also takes work.

Just found this piece from Psychology Today on the three forces of entropy, homeostasis, and progress. Good read.

We can choose to do something–to manage through a bit.

Or we can wallow and complain that we are tired of:

  • Working at home all the time: same desk, same window, same seat
  • Spending evenings at home. Not going out for drinks, dinner, yoga, shopping, etc.
  • Not seeing friends, family, clients, the office–heck, anyone new!
  • Playing “keep away” from people as we walk through stores and around the block (I wish I had embraced dodge ball as a kid–instead, I just wanted to get hit to get out of the game–now, I’m a dodge ball master.)
  • Not being able to celebrate together. The upcoming markers of the fall and winter (fall festivals, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa) remind us that to be safe we can’t be together.
  • Wearing a mask. I’m not complaining. It’s a very easy and necessary addition to my life, yes, and I don’t love it. I’m getting a bit weary. I tried to put gum in my mouth the other day while wearing a mask. Whew.
  • The election in the US. Save us now.

It’s a choice. Sit in front of that wall and fume–or manage through it.

So, manage through. Put in as many pieces into the right places as you can. Try.

Related resource: if you haven’t yet read Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg and want to learn more about how behavior and motivation factors into how we do things, when, and why, his book is great, and he has a free 5-day “coaching” you can sign up for–just 40 minutes a week.

Let’s manage through.

We’re not playing a game–and we’re certainly not getting to perfection. But we need to manage. Together, ideally.

By the way, here’s that article on the wall we hit at 6 months into a crisis.

Reminder: Shellye Archambeau Fireside Chat October 20 at 8 am PT.

On October 20, 2020 at 8 am PT, I’ll be speaking with Shellye Archambeau, author of Unapologetically Ambitious.

This is a reminder to register and learn about Shellye, a Fortune 500 Board member, former CEO, advisor, author, and subject of a HBR case study.

Don’t miss, and I will have some copies of her book to give away. Register now!And Now for Something Completely Different

The most amazingly funny and spot-on cartoons about pandemic life–and life in general: Gemma Correll’s Instagram.

Pasta shapes for the depressed, a map of procrastination, new work from home emojis the quarantine fun map, and more. So clever.

You won’t regret checking out some of her work.  

Talk to you soon and lead with ease,

PS Here’s the original commercial for the Perfection game.