Continuous learning is an essential quality in the life of a Creator. We try to practice that in our own work and lives. This year, Donna will be engaging with the NeuroLeadership Institute, while David is currently enrolled in an e-learning class with Brene Brown, author and researcher who has spent over a decade studying vulnerably, courage, worthiness and shame —- all of which relate to living life in and through the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™ or TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)™.
David is learning a lot about recognizing and managing the shame that can get in the way of empowered living. Brown provides insight into several forms of “vulnerability armor.” One of the primary shields is that of Perfectionism —- one that we can both relate to in certain areas of our lives.
In her book, Daring Greatly, she writes:
“Perfectionism is a defensive move. It’s the belief that if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame… (It is), at its core, about trying to earn approval… Research shows that perfectionism hampers achievement.” (Page 129)
Perfectionism as a “shame shield” is rooted in the Victim Orientation and often results in both inner and outer experiences of the DDT. Internally, if we do not live up to our idealized image, we can become our own worst Persecutor, shaming ourselves about falling short.
In relationships with others, whether it’s professional work relationships or intimate relationships at home, if others see us falling short of being perfect – especially if something we say or do misses the mark – we can feel victimized by their reaction and view of us and, perhaps, even see them as Persecutors (which, in turn, triggers our inner DDT!).
As a married couple, as well as business partners, we each notice our desire to be the “perfect partner” in both aspects of our relationship. Striving to be a perfect work partner, we can become mired in endless rewriting, reworking and rethinking as we attempt to make everything flawless.
The reality is that perfectionism is the “enemy” of learning, creativity and innovation. Learning often requires experimentation, multiple attempts and, yes, falling short. As we engage in the creating process, we learn and adjust when the Baby Step actions we take fail to produce the result we had hoped for.
As Creators, we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable to imperfection, for that is how we learn, grow and develop. Continuous learning accepts the reality of not knowing how we are going to achieve our envisioned outcomes or whether the next Baby Step is going to work—- which makes the perfectionist cringe.
One way that we have shifted our relationship to perfectionism is to adopt the practice of what we call GEFN: Good Enough For Now. Especially in our work life, when we observe ourselves or one another in perfection mode, we call a time-out and ask: “Is this GEFN?”
GEFN allows us to take a Baby Step, learn from it and adjust when we need to. It allows us to put down the “shame shield” of perfectionism and free up energy.
Creators embrace vulnerability, and lay down the shield of perfectionism, as we cultivate the courage to move through the fear of uncertainty and create awesome outcomes.