Perfectionist? No thanks! Averagist for me…

Staring at the ceiling, I contemplated what my next move should be. A thousand thoughts went through my head as I argued with myself over a career move that I was reasonably certain was an impossibility. 12:00am, 1:00am, 3:30am…same conversation playing in my head.

Earlier that day, I had a conversation with someone who told me about an opportunity at another employer. I hadn’t thought much about it at the time. After all, I was only 33 and this job had a list of requirements that I didn’t think I met. I usually go with my gut on matters like this, but my gut wasn’t helping things.

kid therapy

Here’s the problem: All my life, I’ve taken the safe road. There’s a psychological disorder where people will only try things if they are certain that they will be successful. If they think they can’t be, they’ll not try it at all (Full disclosure, I’m not a Psychologist but my sister is and she tells me regularly how screwed up I am); however, I’ve not been officially diagnosed with this.

That said, I know I must have some version of this. (E.g., When I was a kid, I could get a B+ or A- without studying so I didn’t. Why not? b/c if I studied and still only got a B+, that’s a failure.)

Back to the sleepless night. Here are some snippets from the argument going on in my head:

  1. “I’ve never done this before”
  2. “I’m too young”
  3. “I have a good job now and you’ve only been there 1 year”
  4. “This could be a career killer”
  5. “What if this isn’t what I really want to do with my life”
  6. “I don’t have the experience. If this had only come along a year or two down the road…”
  7. “What if I find out that I’m over my head?”

The interesting part about this? All this was BEFORE I EVEN APPLIED for the position!!!

I was reading a post over on Leadership Freak where Dan really made me think about the way I do things. I never realized it before, but I’m apparently a perfectionist. Dan talks about being an “averagist”.

“Averagists,” those who take imperfect steps toward achievable goals, always go further than perfectionists. Each step forward calls for another because you haven’t arrived.”

In a world where we’re taught to play it safe, the challenge is to keep moving towards perfection rather than waiting until you’re sure you’ll get there before you take a step. I want to take imperfect steps towards achievable goals.

I don’t want to be a perfectionist!

I, gulp, WANT TO FAIL…forward. We don’t learn from success, we learn from failure.

Btw, I’ve been doing the job over a year and am loving every minute of it…

Empathy matters

Let me begin by confessing that I’m a bit of an idiot sometimes…

Long story short, I had an iPhone from Verizon that ran out of contract. I found a new carrier that wouldn’t lock me into a 2 year contract. If you know anything about people born after 1978, you know that we don’t really like anyone to tie us down. Oh, and it’s roughly 1/2 price from what Big Red was charging me.

verizonAs a part of the switch, I ordered a new SIM card, popped it in, and then got an error message that this card wouldn’t work because my carrier had to unlock the phone. No problem, right? The phone was paid for.

When that happened, it ported my number from Verizon as if the SIM card worked. Because it didn’t work, I now have a service with a new carrier but no phone that will allow me to use it. That’s when I called Verizon…

“We don’t do that,” the customer service agent said, “we only unlock it if you’re going overseas and want to get a carrier over there.”

Funny thing is, the other carriers will unlock an iPhone, but Verizon says they won’t. Hmmmm…

What emotions do you think I felt?

Yep, all of those. It’s been a few days now (without a cell phone – man I’m in the stone ages) and I’ve had time for my lizard brain to subside and my adult brain kick in. It got me to thinking about empathy.

You see, before this, I wouldn’t have thought much about a company basically refusing to release something that I gave them hard earned money for. Heck, Wouldn’t have crossed my mind because that would be practically stealing! Not so anymore.

Unfortunately, I had to experience first hand the experience of dealing with a company policy that makes me feel like I’m dealing with a thief, or at the very least, a company who doesn’t care even a little bit about me as a customer.

This, however, is not Empathy, it’s Sympathy. Sympathy is feeling the same thing as someone else because you’ve felt it. Empathy is understanding that feeling without ever having necessarily felt that yourself.

I do not have enough empathy. In my job working with successful corporate leaders, I find that my problem is a common one. That’s no excuse; I need more.

Ask yourself, do I empathize? Can I understand and anticipate the way people feel, even if I don’t feel the same way? If you’re a leader, you should probably ask a series of questions like this:

What are we doing that makes people angry? Sad? Frustrated? Feel less important?

I’ll bet that there are great people at Verizon. I’ll bet that some of them can sympathize with my situation. It appears that the problem is that the leaders of that particular company have an Empathy gap. They only see things in terms of dollars and cents and haven’t been able to see what their customer is experiencing. That’s a shame.

Puppy empathySo thanks, Verizon, for helping me stop a minute and think. I am trying to “Make progress every day.”

What about you? Do you have empathy? If so, we need to talk. I have to get better at this if I’m going to serve the way I need to serve. Let’s connect!

There is no try?

ImageYoda was wrong!

Hold on…before you dismiss this as heresy, hear me out.

“Do or not do. There is no try,” is, of course, the line I’m talking about. While I get the line, I don’t buy it.

Try. That’s a tough thing to do. Generally, if you’re like me, you like to think, think, think, think, build, present to the world. The problem with that reasoning is that we get too vested in the outcome or our ‘build’ that we make it hard for people to tell us what needs to be improved.

No one wants to tell you that your baby is ugly. Continue reading