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Are you a perfectionist? Try failing every now and then

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If you're a perfectionist, you hardly allow yourself to make any mistakes. But this pressure to succeed tends to paralyze you. Failing every now and then helps to put things into perspective.

Dutch coach Ben Meijering has a lot of insights about how to be a leader – he even wrote a book about it. His lessons are equally interesting for people who are not CEO’s, because it doesn’t matter whether it’s at work or in the family, we all have leading roles in life sometimes. With this role come responsibilities and high expectations – from other people and from ourselves. That’s when we start being perfectionistic.

Everyone can make mistakes, but me

Of course, we all know  no one’s perfect. But that’s easier to say when it’s about other people. ‘As a perfectionist, you’re hard on yourself. You think you have to be perfect all the time, in order to get the recognition you’re longing for. Regardless of the cost,’ Meijering says.

The trouble with perfection is that it’s impossible to reach. If we strive for it anyway, we’re often crossing personal boundaries: ‘Your health and your social life can suffer from it.’

‘I can always do better’

Do you always feel like you can do better? According to Meijering, then there’s only one remedy: being gentle for yourself. Because if other people are allowed to fail every once in a while, so are you.

Even if you do allow yourself to make mistakes, a failed project or a big blunder can cause a lot of frustration and sadness. Do you find yourself holding on to these feelings? There are two questions you might ask yourself.

Did I do my best?
Did I have fun doing it?

You’ll probably answer positively. Focusing on the positive sides of your failure has an immediate soothing effect. It helps you to be more kind towards yourself.

Embrace your inner failure

Being gentle towards yourself boosts positive energy and it makes the paralyzing pressure disappear almost immediately. ‘I have to’ becomes ‘I can’, stress disappears, and it will be easier to put things into perspective,’ says Meijering.  In other words: long live failure!

Photo: Jakob Owens

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