The other day I was going through my writing files and found a bunch a blogs I had never used. I re-read them, and truth be told – some of them were actually pretty good. Maybe not award winning good, but good enough to get a chuckle or two from a bemused reader over their morning cup of coffee and soggy bowl of bran flakes.
Then I realized the reason I had decided to never use them was that I had previously decided they were crap and belonged in the digital equivalent of the dusty junk drawer, as far away from the human eye as something could possibly be. They just weren’t perfect enough.
This got me thinking (a dangerous thing I know) about how often we have an idea or a wish to try something new and stick it in the proverbial junk drawer.
Perfect – The enemy of good
We have an idea, and we start to label it with words like: silly, childish, whimsical, impractical, too idealistic, unrealistic, not original enough, not perfect enough, not gluten free enough…
You get my drift.
And then we shove that part of ourselves away, only to be encountered on a rainy Sunday morning when you’ve got nothing better to do and you’re suddenly confronted with the ghost of dead dreams.
When we decide to let go of being perfect, this makes space for being authentic instead. And along with that comes creativity, freedom, exploration and most importantly – joy.
For years I had shied away from working with very senior leaders. I had decided somewhere in the recesses of my brain I was too quirky, not polished enough, not as well versed enough on the all leadership buzzwords as I could be, not experienced enough, not prestigious enough.
I hadn’t studied with someone important, like Daniel Goleman or Stephen Covey. My foggy and faulty logic was that in order to be successful with this type of audience, I would need to be something other than what I was. Something better than what I was, whatever that really means.
For years I had put off working with this group and focused on mid-level leaders. (Very rewarding and enjoyable work too by the way which I still love and continue to this day.) I had decided this was my niche. And all the best marketing practices supported my choice, as it’s important to be clear about who your target client is.
Be Authentic Instead
But one day I finally took the plunge and thought, what the heck – what would happen if I just put my stuff out there with a senior audience? My story, my experiences, the reason I do leadership development, my trials and tribulations.
I didn’t die, just in case you were wondering.
There were several comments in the facilitator feedback on how open, vulnerable, authentic, interesting and engaging I was.
And one recent executive coaching client mentioned he had specifically hired me because he read my book and wanted to be challenged by a different way of thinking. He recognized that he couldn’t go from good to great with the same thinking that had gotten him to where he was. He was intrigued by what I had to offer. And here I was thinking I needed to spout out the same types of things that every other pundit is saying…
And then it dawned on me – I had ringfenced myself based on my fears. I had forgotten that I have something unique to give, and that is exactly what some people are looking for. Not every person, but some people. And it’s those people that will end up being my clients. And your clients, if you choose to walk the path to authenticity.
So here’s the Monday morning reflection question for you: What fences have you constructed around yourself? How do these hold you back from sharing your authentic gifts from the world?
Shelley Pernot is a leadership and career coach who is passionate about helping her clients discover their strengths and talents and find a career that utilizes them. Reach out to me here for a free consultation to learn more about the coaching process and how it may benefit you!