Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: Voice of Perfection

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Voice of Perfection

Most of us carry an internal voice demanding perfection – alternately asking requiring us to do it all and criticizing the outcomes. The voice is loud in some, easily stilled in others. The holiday season, with its parties, holiday cards, shopping, gatherings with family, traditions and travel, creates the perfect acoustics, yet also the perfect opportunity to train the voice. The voice of perfection is neither good nor bad. When trained to play its part in the chorus of ourselves, it can move us forward and enable positive change.

Following are a couple of tips that will enable you, the choral director, to train and modulate the voice of perfection.

Ground your action in your values
  • Take a few moments (yes, I know you don’t have a few moments, but it will pay off) to look across the elements of your life; elements such as work, immediate family, extended family, social relationships, finances, health, spiritual life and self.
  • Make some trade-offs amongst these for the next few weeks. For example, winding up the year at work is critical, so I’ll give myself permission to reduce exercising. Or family and spirituality are key, so I’ll schedule a few ½ days as vacation.
  • In addition to the trade-offs, identify any limits that should be established to support your values. For example, I won’t work on New Year’s Day. I won’t increase my debt. I will get to bed on time.
  • With a basis created for decision-making, listen to the voice of perfection ask it to look at your to-do items to evaluate whether the party, the cards, the cookies, the trip, etc. provide strong support, limited support or no support to your values for the next few weeks.
Find another way
  • Despite the voice saying you should do it all, when the to-do item provides limited or no support to your values, learn to say “no”, “later” or let me find another way. Can you skip the party? Can you send a short holiday note via email and a longer one later? Can you buy the holiday goodies rather than making them?
The voice of perfection encourages us to do our very best, and helps us evaluate where to get better. When the voice rings above the chorus, it may push us to do more, yet accomplish less. By finding your values, you can train the voice to focus on perfection in those areas that strongly support your values. Know and accept that your trade-offs and limits may be different during the hectic holiday season, so that you have the ability to tailor the voice to the holiday chorus.

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