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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Perfection paralysis and taking action

by Nelson Roth
When I was in grade school, I stuttered.  There were certain words that got locked in my head and were hard to get out.  Stuttering was a real problem for me and was often humiliating.  When I was eight years old, having a conversation was a fearful, anxiety-filled experience.  I would think and re-think about how to say something so that my words would come out right; and often, I would avoid saying anything at all.

To speak clearly, I had to get over the fear of making mistakes and being made fun of.  I actually improved my speech by making mistakes, quickly recovering, and continuing the conversation; and eventually, I overcame my stuttering.  I came to see that being concerned about what others were thinking kept me from doing what I needed to do.

Because I stuttered, there was a time when I convinced myself that it was best not to speak unless I could correctly pronounce all the syllables of those words.  I became afraid of making a mistake and set a standard for myself of perfectionism.

Carried over into life now, I can challenge myself when it's time for action.  I ask myself, "Am I going to let my fear of a mistake keep me from taking action?"  I've got to be honest and ask, "Am I going to let a desire for everything to be perfect paralyze me?"

My childhood experience of stuttering makes me think of the potentially paralyzing behavior of inaction when it's time to implement an initiative.  Now, when you are not sure about 'when' or 'what' action steps to implement; staying put until you are certain is the best decision.  

However, when you have clarity about where you are going; and, if a good plan is in place to get there...it's time for action!

How about you?  Is there something for you to be taking action on?  Is the fear of making a mistake holding you back?  Is perfection keeping you from achieving your goal?  Is trying to figure out all the details or making sure everything is perfectly in place keeping you from action?

What could you do now?
What do you want to do now?
What will you do now?

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