Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist
In Fabrice Midal's book The French Art of Not Giving a Sh*t, there is a chapter called Stop Wanting to be Perfect. This, among other messages in the book, resonated with me. Midal says "We want so badly to be perfect that we no longer recognize our success, because we think that what we do is never enough." I've personally been struggling with this idea of success lately. So much so that my husband, John, recently created a Wall of Recognition for me on which I can add a star whenever I do something noteworthy, whether it is personal or for the business. I finally admitted to John about a month ago that one of the things I am struggling with the most as a solopreneur is that I no longer have traditional external indicators that I'm doing a good job - the merit increases, promotions, performance reviews, and a manager to tell me I did a good job on a project. Now I'm the boss of myself, and a critical one at that. I've always had high expectations - particularly of myself. That can be dangerous in the world of entrepreneurship where you have to fail in order to grow, mix that with lofty goals and high expectations and you have a recipe for struggle. Perfectionism not only holds you back from moving forward and putting things out there, but it can stifle authenticity. Midal says "When we are most exposed, most genuine...only then do we find the possibility to truly connect with others. It's as if taking a risk is required for a real heart-to-heart connection. By trying to be perfect, we smother this precious source within." I can see this in action when I teach yoga. My best classes aren't the ones that are "perfect" (when I don't make any mistakes in my cues or in left vs. right sides), but rather the ones when I am the most vulnerable and share a piece of myself with the class. It's those moments that people can connect with me, because they see the real person who has flaws and who doesn't always get everything right. When I first was thinking about launching Firefly over three years ago, before it even had a name, I hired a business coach. One of the things that he assigned was to try abstract painting. It seemed like a strange task from a business coach, but it was all about transitioning from my current state of being as an employee in a detailed, analytical role to that of a visionary leader who can see the big picture. Creative outlets, I have come to realize, are a must to get me out of the weeds - all of that detailed work that feeds my perfectionist tendencies. While trying to move the needle with Firefly, I have had many starts and stops, I have experienced success and I have faced struggle. I have found myself caught up in the doing and focusing on busy-work, which sometimes pulls me away from the big picture - my dream for a yoga retreat center in Colorado that helps light people up by connecting them to their passion, to other people, to the Earth and to food. All of this is a long way of explaining why this summer I've decided to give myself a break. July 11 is the 10-year anniversary of my heart attack, and while my life has changed significantly in that time, I still find myself in old patterns of behavior that lead to stress rather than flow. I want to get back to the heart of Firefly, and to do that I need less doing, more being. To me that means offering only events and services that are aligned with Firefly's vision, and to make time for the things that I love and my creative outlets. This may sound funny to those of you with children, but I also feel the need to spend as much time with my 13-year old dog, Ella, as I can because she is visibly getting older and I want to enjoy the time she has left. When I semi-retired by leaving the corporate world, I intended to ease up on the gas pedal, but I've slipped back into old habits. It's time to press pause again and re-connect with what makes me feel most alive. You'll still hear from me, possibly even more on our blog, because writing is my favorite creative outlet. Firefly's events and retreats this year will be focused on getting outside and enjoying all that this beautiful world has to offer - on simplifying, on saying no to that which does not serve you, or as Midal says "stop holding yourself back, and desire away."
This summer I am committed to saying yes to the things that bring me joy - to being in community, to volunteering, to going for a swim or a bike ride for fun rather than to train for a race, to hiking with the dogs, to getting out on the water to paddle board or kayak, to camping out under a sky full of stars and taking the time to look up, to taking up painting, to writing more for the pure enjoyment of it, to cooking, to dancing, to walking barefoot in the grass at the park, to listening to music and singing my heart out, to being present in my body and getting out of my head. What do you love that you have crowded out with busyness? Will you join me in this crusade to enjoy the present moment? Share photos with us with #firefliesbeing. Follow us on this adventure of living. Let's follow Midal's advice - cut the crap and live our lives.