I have heard it said that people who procrastinate are perfectionists at heart. If they can’t do it perfectly right now, they will put it off until they have the time to do it perfectly. I consider myself the Queen of Procrastination and if you had told me I was a perfectionist, I would have (and probably have) laughed in your face. At least until I really started thinking about it. I have lots of “projects” that I don’t ever start because I don’t have the time to do it “right.” So, I guess that theory is correct.
So how do we stop being perfectionists? How do we stop thinking we’re the only one who can do it right, the only one who knows how to do it, the only one who can do it perfectly?
In Rory Vaden’s book Procrastinate on Purpose, he talks about five permissions you need to give yourself in order to multiply your time. There were several (probably 5 if I’m perfectly honest) that spoke to me. But the one that hit me in the gut was when he talked about giving yourself the permission of Imperfect. Say what? And ruin my reputation? But here’s his point. If you don’t give yourself permission to be imperfect, you will have a “bunch of perfect useless stuff in your life but you are going to be burned out.” Hmmmm. Go on. He says “you’ll be the go-to guy at the office . . . but you’ll hate your job. You’ll throw the absolute best parties . . . but you’ll resent all your friends. Your underwear drawer will be folded neatly . . . but you’re going to be exhausted. All your work will be perfect . . . and you will be miserable!”
OK. I’m listening. The key to this is to train others to do what you do and then . . . LET THEM DO IT! When people do this successfully, Mr. Vaden says “They stopped carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders and they invited some teammates to come with them along the way. They stopped saving the day all the time and empowered other people to also be the hero. They stopped trying to do it all themselves and instead they created other leaders.”
This, of course, didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t happen “perfectly.” Mistakes were made along the way by those delegated to, but they learned and they fixed it. Then the next time, they did better.
The line that struck me was “They stopped saving the day all the time and empowered other people to also be the hero.” My favorite part of my job is saving the day. But by doing that I’m cheating other people out of their own job satisfaction. The feeling of a job well done, of saving the day for someone, of accomplishment, of being a hero. And that’s just not fair.
I still suck at delegating, but I’m working on it. I doubt I will ever get it “perfect,” but I will try to step back and let others step up into a more empowered role. We both deserve that!