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Why Perfectionism is a Problem (and what to do about it!)

WHY PERFECTIONISM IS A PROBLEM (AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT!)

All of the mid career women leaders I meet want to do a great job. 

The trouble is, many of them think that a great job = a perfect job.

And while intentionally created, high quality work is a must, perfect work can do more harm than good.

Here’s how …

Striving for perfectionism creates stress and sucks the joy out of working.

Although having meticulous attention to detail is an asset, most perfectionists will tell you that they would actually prefer to not be so fixated on achieving a ‘perfect’ end goal. 

Why? 

Because rather than tasks and projects feeling like enjoyable creative endeavours, striving for perfectionism turns them into stressful, overwhelming and energy sucking to-do’s.

Not fun – and I truly believe that work should be enjoyable and rewarding!

You’re going round in circles, striving for an unattainable goal.

Judging something as ‘perfect’ is 100% subjective which ultimately means that ‘perfect’ doesn’t exist! We are all unique humans, who have our own special perspectives, ideas and outlooks, and what you and your boss/colleagues/team label as ‘perfect’ will always be different. 

You’re never going to be able to please everyone … but if you’re striving for perfection, you may just send yourself crazy trying!

It slows you down. A LOT.

Most of the perfectionists I support admit to getting things done more slowly than they should. Not because they’re lazy, but because they’re investing so. much. time into getting every minute detail exactly right. 

It gives you a bad reputation.

Because perfectionists typically work slower, they have a tendency to not get things done on time. Sometimes, they don’t even get things finished at all! This isn’t a good look and it definitely isn’t going to get you seen (well, not for the right reasons anyway!)

As well as this, although perfectionists tend to look busy, they’re not actually being effective. Working effectively is what I call Queen Bee work, and it’s this work that gets women recognised and promoted for getting the work that matters out there in the world.

So, what to actually do about your perfectionism?

You switch your focus. 

My mantra is – PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION.

PROGRESS is what will move the dial on the work that matters and get you seen and celebrated for the incredible asset you are.

Progress looks like:

      • Putting clear project timelines in place, and sticking to them
      • Shifting your standards from 100% perfection to 80% excellence (for all but the most critical task like board reports!)
      • Coming back to the big organisational picture when perfectionism tries to rear it’s unhelpful head
      • Striving to produce great work, not perfect work (remember, it doesn’t exist!)
      • Speaking kindly to yourself (because perfectionism can say some pretty nasty things)
      • Seeing your projects as fun and enjoyable creative endeavours, not simply tasks to tick off a list
      • Asking for help if you need it! No-one expects you to be Super Woman, and teams are there to support one another!

More than anything though, I want you to ask yourself, “WHY do I strive for perfection?”

It’s all good and well to have strategies in place, but if you can get to the root cause and the WHY behind your perfectionism, these strategies are more likely to stick.

Keen to chat more about how to become a recovering perfectionist, by shifting your focus to progress over perfection? Come and join me in my free Facebook group for mid career professional women. Click here to join!

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Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
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When you cast your mind back to when you first stepped into a leadership role, it’s possible you remember the feelings of excitement and pride, mixed with fear and trepidation.

What’s required to excel as an effective team member is different to what’s required of us as a leader. It involves a massive behavioural shift which, according to the tenets of Emotional Intelligence, also requires a corresponding shift in self-perception and identity

Jane Benston

My story, amplified

So, how did I come to be a women’s leadership coach?  

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As I sat on the couch this week watching the Queens funeral, I was transfixed by the pomp and ceremony of it all. There’s no doubt the Pom’s know how to create a sense of occasion.

Here we were, witnessing history.

Jane Benston

Why You Need to Create Space to Think (Not Just Do)

WHY YOU NEED TO CREATE SPACE TO THINK (NOT JUST DO)

Leaders are paid to think, not just do.

In fact, thinking is what I like to call Queen Bee work, whereas when you are stuck deep in the doing… that’s Busy Bee work.  

Let me clarify further …

The Busy Bee is a ‘do-er’. She is often run off her feet with a jam-packed calendar that barely allows her room to breathe, let alone room to think strategically, take a ‘big picture’ focus and lead her team. She is juggling a million tasks and being busy, but not necessarily being productive.

The Queen Bee is a leader. She is working at a strategic level and bringing about high level improvement, change and growth to her organisation. She is focussed, intentional and highly effective. She is moving the business forward and being recognised for doing so. 

Thinking work – Queen Bee work – is the work that gets you recognised, rewarded and promoted (which I know is what you want!)

Yes, an innovative and effective workplace needs both thinkers AND do-ers – but it’s the thinkers that get seen, recognised for their high level visionary work and ultimately, paid more.

Do you feel stuck at the middle management level? 

If so, I want you to consider what you’re doing more of – doing or thinking?

As a society, we’ve been told that action steps and tangible outcomes are more worthwhile, which is why many women think that this is the kind of work they need to do in order to move-on-up in their organisation.

But it’s not!

While doing actions are important, your organisation cannot grow if it doesn’t have leaders at its helm who are thinking about the big picture. In fact, there are no successful businesses without leaders who lead. 

That’s where you come in!

I know it can feel ‘lazy’ and ‘time wasting’ to put an hour aside to think (it’s not by the way!) 

BUT trust me when I say that it’s in this space that your greatest ideas will come to you, and that it’s these ideas that will take you to the next level in your career journey.

The key is to start creating space to think and prioritise the work that requires you to think deeply, creatively or strategically. It’s time to get out of the endless cycle of doing. 

“So what does ‘thinking work’ actually look like on a practical level Jane?”

Great question! It looks like you:

    • Creating white space in your calendar to put on your leadership hat, get out of the doing rat race and see opportunities for change and expansion (I’ve written some great suggestions for how to do this here)
    • Surrounding yourself with other inspiring Queen Bees who are thinking strategically and coming up with transformational big picture ideas in their own workplaces
    • Seeking to solve problems, rather than simply offering short term band-aid solutions
    • Designing strategies that will more your corner of the business forward, rather than focussing solely on the present and getting caught up in the day-to-day
    • Mentoring and upskilling your team, so you can all expand, become A players and support one another (and therefore your workplace!) to rise.  You need your team to step up to allow you the space to think

LET'S CONNECT

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

Similar Blog Posts

From doing it all … to…

When you cast your mind back to when you first stepped into a leadership role, it’s possible you remember the feelings of excitement and pride, mixed with fear and trepidation.

What’s required to excel as an effective team member is different to what’s required of us as a leader. It involves a massive behavioural shift which, according to the tenets of Emotional Intelligence, also requires a corresponding shift in self-perception and identity

Jane Benston

My story, amplified

So, how did I come to be a women’s leadership coach?  

Like all good stories, the journey wasn’t all smooth sailing. I help women dig deep from a place not just of expertise but also from experience. I’ve felt that sense of career frustration and resentment. Let me tell you my story… 

Jane Benston

What the Queen taught me about…

As I sat on the couch this week watching the Queens funeral, I was transfixed by the pomp and ceremony of it all. There’s no doubt the Pom’s know how to create a sense of occasion.

Here we were, witnessing history.

Jane Benston

Why more responsibility doesn’t have to mean more work.

Why more responsibility doesn’t have to mean more work.

Have you been thinking you’re ready to step up to the next level of leadership but are holding back because you fear the extra workload?

Many mid-career women I speak to feel that accepting a growing workload and being willing to work long hours is the price they must pay to be considered for promotion.

There’s no doubt that the more senior you become – the more responsibility you take on.  The decisions get bigger.  The budgets get bigger.  The problems get bigger.

But it doesn’t necessarily mean your workload gets bigger.

Yes. That’s right!  A more senior role doesn’t have to lead to long hours, burnout and exhaustion.

So, how do you get results and stay on top of everything you are responsible for if you don’t work harder and longer hours?

It’s all about working smarter – not harder!

What needs to change is the way you work.

Take Jacinta, for example.  She knew that the way she was working was not sustainable.  She loved her work but not the long hours and the way it was impacting her health and intruding on her family time. 

She recognised she was giving a lot of herself to her organisation while neglecting her personal wellbeing. She knew she was ready to progress to the next level of leadership, but not if it meant working even harder than she already was.

Through her participation in Ignite (our online group coaching program for mid-career women) Jacinta began implementing a range of simple tips, tools and strategies that allowed her to achieve more with less effort.

She developed new habits, shifted where she was focusing her time and energy and…. most importantly, stopped working weekends!

Here are 4 strategies for leveraging your time and effort:

1. Focus on what matters most.

Start by identifying those activities and task that matter most to you, your team and the organisation.  Not all tasks are created equal and some will have a bigger impact than others.  Make sure you are focusing your time and attention on those activities that are business critical.  It’s amazing how much time and energy we can waste working on tasks with little impact. 

2. Progress over perfection.

Keeping projects moving forward matters more than making something perfect. Think about how much time you can spend making something perfect – but does it really matter and does anyone ever notice? With the odd exception, like board reports, KPI reporting and statistical analysis –  I’d suggest your 8/10 will be good enough!

3. Time blocking.

You may think you are a wiz at multi-tasking but this habit is not serving you well. Our brain is not wired to jump from task to task.  It slows us down, restricts critical thinking and promotes fatigue.

Try blocking out time in your calendar to dedicate to particular types of work.  Jacinta now has a number of 90 minute time slots in her calendar that are reserved for work that requires strategic or creative thinking.  This one strategy has helped her to fast track progress on a number of business critical projects.

4. Think who, not how.

This is a strategy I learnt from my own mentor and I love it!  We are not great at everything… and we don’t have to be.  Rather than trying to work out how to do something – think about who already has the skill and engage them in making it happen. This might mean asking for advice, outsourcing the project to an expert, or delegating the task to someone in your team.

So, if you are ready to step up to the next level of leadership, don’t fear the pace and volume of work.  Instead, commit to shifting the way you work to allow you to manage the increased responsibility without working harder or longer hours.

Good luck!

 

LET'S CONNECT

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

Similar Blog Posts

From doing it all … to…

When you cast your mind back to when you first stepped into a leadership role, it’s possible you remember the feelings of excitement and pride, mixed with fear and trepidation.

What’s required to excel as an effective team member is different to what’s required of us as a leader. It involves a massive behavioural shift which, according to the tenets of Emotional Intelligence, also requires a corresponding shift in self-perception and identity

Jane Benston

My story, amplified

So, how did I come to be a women’s leadership coach?  

Like all good stories, the journey wasn’t all smooth sailing. I help women dig deep from a place not just of expertise but also from experience. I’ve felt that sense of career frustration and resentment. Let me tell you my story… 

Jane Benston

What the Queen taught me about…

As I sat on the couch this week watching the Queens funeral, I was transfixed by the pomp and ceremony of it all. There’s no doubt the Pom’s know how to create a sense of occasion.

Here we were, witnessing history.

Jane Benston

7 simple ways to boost your capacity as a strategic thinker

7 simple ways to boost your capacity as a strategic thinker

When you reach a certain level of leadership – you are employed to think not just do!  Being able to think creatively, solve problems and create new and innovative ideas will have you stand out in the crowd and put you in a powerful position. 

Innovation, creative thinking and problem solving are becoming increasingly important skillfor all leaders to foster.   Organisations are hungry for employees who can see things from a new perspective, solve long-standing problems with simple changes and really drive progress within the business. 

I once thought that I wasn’t creative, able to think strategically or to come up with innovative ideas. I now recognise that actually I am … I just hadn’t nurtured these skills or learnt how to create the best environments for me to allow my creative juices to run free. 

Here are 7 surprisingly simple ways to boost your capacity as a strategic thinker. 

1.  Create thinking time.

It is near impossible to be creative, let alone productive when you are surrounded by distractions or on high alert for the distractions that are likely to come your way. 

Put aside a chunk of time in your calendar each week dedicated for work that requires thinking clearly and creatively such aspecific project work, big picture planning or nutting out a problem.   Turn off your phone, shut down your emails and find a quiet space.  

 2. Manage your mood.

Research has found that we do our best creative work when we feel positive. We tend to be bolder and more focused on solutions and what is possible when we feel good. Think about what gets you in a positive moodIs it heading out for a quick coffee with colleagues, is it meditating in the mornings before work or hitting the gym? 

3.  Find your creative space.

Our work environment plays a huge part in our ability to think strategically and creatively 

One leader I worked with was struggling to come up with a business strategy that was innovative or inspiring. She felt bogged down and void of new ideas. Not surprising really… she was working in a classified area of the Defence Force requiring her to conduct all her work in a windowless bunker!   

I wonder where your creative space is? Is it a café, sitting on a park bench or your kitchen bench after the kids have gone to bed? Wherever it is … plan to spend more time there. Not only will it be good for your ability to think creatively and strategically, you will also see your productivity take off. 

4.  Get exercising.

We know exercise is good for us for lots of reasons and here’s another… studies have shown that exercise can improve our ability to think creatively.

I love the way it’s explained in this Psychology Today article: 

“Sweat is like WD-40 for your mind—it lubricates the rusty hinges of your brain and makes your thinking more fluid. Exercise allows your conscious mind to access fresh ideas that are buried in the subconscious.”

So … get into motion and notice the ideas begin to flow.  

5.  Extend your boundaries.

There is a very good reason why training programs usually involve butchers’ paper and colour textas. It is to encourage us to return to our childlike exploration of ideas and to remove the limits and linear thinking that comes with lined paper or the standard work document. 

To get ideas flowing ditch the computer and map out your thoughts on flip paper or a white board. Go analogue. Breakthroughs rarely happen on a laptop! And science backs this up. Apparently, paper and pixels access different parts of our brain. 

6.  Find some friends.

You are no doubt smart. It may be your responsibility … but you don’t have all the answers. Very often the best solutions and ideas happen through collaboration 

Reach out to your team, colleagues and mentors to bounce ideas around with. Ladies, we are known for our strength as collaborators so let’s put that skill to work. Stop believing you need to do it all. You don’t! 

 7. Be Inspired.

We do not find new solutions or become more creative by maintaining the status quo. New ideas come when we step outside what we already know and experience new things.   

Explore new places, seek out new experiences, visit places of inspiration, engage in wild and crazy conversations to extend your thinking of what is possible and expand your horizons by immersing in the works of the brightest thought leaders of today. 

Building your capacity to think creatively and strategically is just like building any muscle.  

It takes persistencepractice and perseverance. We were all born creative but somewhere along the way it gets beaten out of us. We are told to colour between the lines, to be like everyone else and to follow the rules. 

If you want to create innovating marketing ideas, develop game changing strategies or to solve the challenges that are thrown your way day in day out, you must flex your creative muscle. See this as a critical skill you can develop.  

Be bold. Be brave and have some fun. 

LET'S CONNECT

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

Similar Blog Posts

From doing it all … to…

When you cast your mind back to when you first stepped into a leadership role, it’s possible you remember the feelings of excitement and pride, mixed with fear and trepidation.

What’s required to excel as an effective team member is different to what’s required of us as a leader. It involves a massive behavioural shift which, according to the tenets of Emotional Intelligence, also requires a corresponding shift in self-perception and identity

Jane Benston

My story, amplified

So, how did I come to be a women’s leadership coach?  

Like all good stories, the journey wasn’t all smooth sailing. I help women dig deep from a place not just of expertise but also from experience. I’ve felt that sense of career frustration and resentment. Let me tell you my story… 

Jane Benston

What the Queen taught me about…

As I sat on the couch this week watching the Queens funeral, I was transfixed by the pomp and ceremony of it all. There’s no doubt the Pom’s know how to create a sense of occasion.

Here we were, witnessing history.

Jane Benston

7 Simple Ways To Supercharge Your Creative Thinking

7 Simple Ways To Supercharge Your Creative Thinking

Innovation, creative thinking and problems solving is becoming an increasingly important skill for all leaders to foster.   Organisations are hungry for employees who can see things from a new perspective, solve long-standing problems with simple changes and really drive progress within the business.

Being able to think creatively, solve problems and create new and innovative ideas will have you stand out in the crowd and put you in a powerful position.

I once thought that I wasn’t creative, able to think strategically or to come up with innovative ideas. I now recognise that actually I am … I just hadn’t nurtured these skills or learnt how to create the best environments for me to allow my creative juices to run free.

 

Here are 7 surprisingly simple ways to supercharge your creativity.

1.  Create thinking time. It is nigh on impossible to be creativity let alone productive when we are surrounded by distraction or you are on high alert for the detractions that are likely to come your way.

Put aside a chunk of time in your calendar each week dedicated for work that requires clear thinking or creatively such are specific project work, big picture planning or nutting out a problem.   Turn off your phone, shut down your emails and shut your office door if you are lucky enough to have one.

2.  Manage your mood. Research has found that we do our best creative work when we feel positive. We tend to be bolder and more focused on solutions and what is possible when we feel good. So think about what gets you in a positive mood? Is it heading out for a quick coffee with colleagues, is it meditating in the mornings before work or hitting the gym?

3.  Find your creative space. One leader I was working with some years ago was struggling to come up with a business strategy that was innovative or inspiring. She felt bogged down and void of new ideas. Not surprising really… she was working in a classified area of the Defence Force requiring her to conduct all her work in a windowless bunker!

Our work environment plays a huge part in our creativity. All my best creative work is done sitting in one of my favourite café’s. Yes the coffee is good but I think it is the ambient noise and the hustle and bustle around me that allows me to focus, create and come up with new ideas.

I wonder where your creative space is? Is it a café, sitting on a park bench or your kitchen bench after the kids have gone to bed? Wherever it is … plan to spend more time there. Not only will it be good for your creativity, you will also see your productivity take off.

4.  Get exercising. We know exercise is good for us for lots of reasons and here’s another … studies have shown that exercise can improve our ability to think creatively.

I love the way it’s explained in this Psychology Today article:

“Sweat is like WD-40 for your mind—it lubricates the rusty hinges of your brain and makes your thinking more fluid. Exercise allows your conscious mind to access fresh ideas that are buried in the subconscious.”

So … head out for a walk at lunch time to clear the mind and expand your thinking. On countless occasions I have been mulling over a problem all morning only to find the moment I step outside for a walk, the answer appears simply and easily even before I get to the end of the street.

5.  Extend your boundaries. There is a very good reason why training programs usually involve butchers paper and colour textas. It is to encourage us to return to our child like exploration of ideas and to remove the limits and linear thinking that comes with lined paper or the standard work document.

To get ideas flowing ditch the computer and map out your thoughts on flip paper or a white board. This is the time for out of the box thinking. Believe no idea is a crazy one because it is from these crazy ideas that the gems appear. You can always amend them later to mould them into workable ideas… but for now just go with the ideas.

6.  Find some friends. You are no doubt smart. It may be your responsibility … but you don’t have all the answers. Very often the best solutions and ideas happen through collaboration. Reach out to your team, colleagues and mentors to bounce ideas around with. Ladies, we are known for our strength as collaborators so lets put that skill to work. Stop believing you need to do it all. You don’t!

7.  Be Inspired. We do not find new solutions or become more creative by maintaining the status quo. New ideas come when we step outside what we already know and experience new things.   Explore new places, seek out new experiences, visit places of inspiration, engage in wild and crazy conversations to extend your thinking of what is possible and expand your horizons by immersing in the works of the brightest thought leaders of today.

New ideas and solutions do not always come from brand new thinking … often it is from repurposing, redefining and reshaping the bright ideas of others.

Building your creativity is just like building any muscle. It takes persistence, practice and perseverance. We were all born creative but somewhere along the way it gets beaten out of us. We are told to colour between the lines, to be like everyone else and to follow the rules.

If you want to create innovating marketing ideas, develop game changing strategies or to solve the challenges that are thrown your way day in day out, you must flex your creative muscle. See this as a critical skill you can develop. Be bold. Be brave and have some fun.

Next Steps?

If you like what you have read, Click HERE  and pop your name and email into the boxes and come join this growing community of extraordinary, passionate, down to earth women just like you who are committed to finding their place at the leadership table.

LET'S CONNECT

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

Similar Blog Posts

From doing it all … to…

When you cast your mind back to when you first stepped into a leadership role, it’s possible you remember the feelings of excitement and pride, mixed with fear and trepidation.

What’s required to excel as an effective team member is different to what’s required of us as a leader. It involves a massive behavioural shift which, according to the tenets of Emotional Intelligence, also requires a corresponding shift in self-perception and identity

Jane Benston

My story, amplified

So, how did I come to be a women’s leadership coach?  

Like all good stories, the journey wasn’t all smooth sailing. I help women dig deep from a place not just of expertise but also from experience. I’ve felt that sense of career frustration and resentment. Let me tell you my story… 

Jane Benston

What the Queen taught me about…

As I sat on the couch this week watching the Queens funeral, I was transfixed by the pomp and ceremony of it all. There’s no doubt the Pom’s know how to create a sense of occasion.

Here we were, witnessing history.

Jane Benston