Overcome Perfectionism and Lead with Imperfection

Executive coach, speaker and author Vitale Buford presented at the Silicon Valley Executive Forum about overcoming perfectionism in May 2021.

She started by quoting Brene Brown: “Perfection is a 20-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.”

Striving for excellence is a positive passion and a self-initiated drive that makes a great CEO or a leader, while being a perfectionist is allowing one’s worst critique constantly judging oneself as a bystander. A perfectionist mindset is based on limiting beliefs about oneself and others, and is mentally, emotionally and psychologically debilitating.

Symptoms of perfectionism in work and in life

Symptoms of perfectionism can be:

  • People-pleasing
  • Approval seeking
  • Control
  • Avoiding conflict
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • High expectations
  • Low self-worth
  • Comparison
  • Procrastination
  • Feeling stuck
  • Indecision

Perfectionism is manifested in our careers like this:

  • Overcommitting, chronic multitasking, “hurry syndrome”
  • Constant need for control
  • Unrealistic expectations of yourself and others
  • Imposter syndrome
  • Destructive self-criticism
  • Setting “people-pleasing” deadlines vs. realistic deadlines
  • Chronic stress and overwhelm
  • Your career is your identity
  • Taking on too many projects and feeling burnt out

Perfectionism hinders our ability to live our lives in ways such as:

  • Always doing for others and never saying “no”
  • Not being able to make a decision and asking everyone for advice; seeking external validation
  • Constant comparison
  • Setting goals and not taking action; waiting for the “perfect time”
  • Lack of healthy boundaries in relationships
  • Overwhelm, anxiety, worry
  • Not speaking up for your needs
  • I “should” be further along

3-step process of leading with imperfection

Step 1: Awareness = Curious Observation + Pattern Identification

In identifying patterns of perfectionist behaviors, Ms. Buford listed “slow and fast perfectionism” for our intentional observation:

  • Slow:
    • Procrastination
    • Indecision
    • Fear of failure
    • Imposter Syndrome
    • Feeling stuck
    • Anxiety
    • Black and white thinking
    • Avoiding conflict
  • Fast:
    • Approval seeking
    • People pleasing
    • Unrealistic expectations for yourself and others
    • Obsessive thinking
    • Need for control
    • “Work harder, achieve more” thinking
    • Constant overwhelm

Both slow and fast perfectionism can negatively affect our relationships, personal development, family and parenting, finances, health, fun and enjoyment and the ability to lead oneself and others.

Step 2: Mindset Change

Ms. Buford suggested using  “habit of self-compassion”, summarized as “Four Cs” - criticism, curiosity, compassion, and choice, -  to reframe perfectionist way of thinking, with mantras and routines:

  1. Notice your Criticism
  2. Get Curious
  3. Show yourself Compassion
  4. Choose better

Step 3: Action

What does it take to build habits of self-compassion, other than time? 

“Reframing, mantras, routines” are the three words Ms. Buford used to conclude her presentation.  

To get out of the negative and self-destructive habits of thinking, first refrain from thinking “what if…”, insead, think “even if…”.  Refrain from viewing anxiety-causing unknown as “uncertainty”, but to view it as “possibility”. Refrain from constantly doing the “balancing” acts of pleasing everyone, and start to actively pursue your own “priority”. 

Mantras like these ones below can also help us feel good about ourselves:

“I give myself room to be human.”

“Done is better than perfect.”

“I cannot miss out on what’s meant for me.”

Action leads to confidence leads to action.

Creating new routines to reinforce new habits of thinking can gradually lead to changing perfectionist behaviors. 

To get more information about overcoming perfectionism, please contact @VitaleBuford 

www.facebook.com/vitalebuford vitale@vitalebuford.com

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At Executive Forums Silicon Valley, selected business owners and leaders work together to gain clarity, insight and accountability to ignite their leadership engines, grow their businesses and improve their lives. If you are interested in learning more about Business Owner Advisory Boards, Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), Stages of Growth, Value Builder System or becoming a member at Executive Forum Silicon Valley, please email Glenn Perkins: gperkins@executiveforums.com or call 408-901-0321. For more information visit http://www.execforumssv.com/.

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A Roadmap for Pivoting a Business Towards Future Growth

In times of turmoil, we hear the inevitable cry to pivot your business into a new set of products or services. Exactly how is that done? What are the steps? 

 Do we need a crisis to pivot our business?

Shouldn’t we always be looking to pivot our business?

And, if pivoting is so easy, why doesn’t everyone do it? 

These questions were explored at the Executive Forums Silicon Valley Top Executive Forum this month through a presentation and discussion led by Beatrice Stonebanks (Stonebanks Sales Management Teams). 

The discussion explored both the impact of the current COVID 19 environment as well as general long-term industry and buyer trends. After all, no one wanted to be like BlockBuster Video who missed the trend and technology of HOW consumers wanted to procure and engage, even though they knew all along about consumer demand for video content. Same goes with many taxi companies who did not innovate and pivot towards new ways of meeting customers’ needs for transportation and missed the trend and technology of HOW consumers wanted to procure and engage.

Ms. Stonebanks walked the members through some specifics on how to use industry reports to answer the following types of questions, as a roadmap to focus on:

  • What are the trends in your market? 
  • Exactly why are your best customers buying from you? 
  • What technology will be used to buy your products and services?
  • Where are the growth sectors that value similar characteristics?
  • What happens in your target markets if a Black Swan event happens?
  • How must you embrace technology to stay relevant to your customers?

This is a concise and straightforward method using just a few key questions to determine why your best customers value your product, service or company and what additional value you can provide.

The members were led through the “Stonebanks Sales Management 10 Step Process” that acts as a roadmap to help companies work through this process. A summary of the ten steps of this process are:

  1. Access 2020 Tech Trends Report 
  2. Research Your Sector (or the sector you might pivot into)
  3. Keyword Search a Term or a Specific Niche
  4. Conduct an Ideal Client Summary
  5. Create a Decision Matrix for Your Company
  6. Choose your Preferred Target Niche(s) 
  7. Review the Top Ten Fastest Growing Sectors – Match with Your Niche
  8. Analyze Optimistic and Pessimistic Trends in Selected Sectors
  9. Adjust Your Products or Services Accordingly
  10. Create Your Business Development Game Plan

Each specific member company was presented with a quick summary of the results of this process. For example, for one member who runs a full-service printing company, the following trends were identified. Although these types of trends are just the tip of the iceberg, consider how valuable this type of data-derived information can be in developing business growth plans. These trends were  identified for the printing company:

  • print on packaging is a growth area – flexography, gravure
  • professional services to other printers 
  • geographic collaboration (FTD model) are applicable
  • sector growing by 12% through 2024

This short article cannot do justice to the richness of the discussion around this process, and how it is relevant at all times, beyond COVID 19.

So pivoting is not that easy, however, there is a process that can be used. If you are looking to skate your company to where the puck will be (or how to use the puck in a completely new game), I recommend that you contact Beatrice Stonebanks (510 338-0896 www.stonebanks.net). 

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At Executive Forums Silicon Valley, selected business owners and leaders work together to gain clarity, insight and accountability to ignite their leadership engines, grow their businesses and improve their lives. If you are interested in learning more about Business Owner Advisory Boards, Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) or The Seven Stages of Growth, contact gperkins@executiveforums.com or call 408-901-0321. For more information visit http://www.execforumssv.com/.

Justification for Your Next Vacation

Perhaps the best way to succeed in your business, is to work yourself out of your business.

The better your company runs on autopilot, the more valuable it will be when you’re ready to sell or transition. 

A recent survey by The Value Builder Score found companies that would perform well without their owner for a period of three months are 50 percent more likely to get an offer to be acquired when compared to more owner-dependent businesses. 

Let your vacation be a detective

There is no better justification for taking a blissful, uninterrupted holiday than to see how your company performs in your absence. To gauge your company’s ability to handle your absence, start by taking a vacation. Leave your computer at home and switch off your mobile. Upon your return, you’ll probably discover that your employees got resourceful and found answers to a lot of the questions they would have asked you if you had been in the building or on the end of an email or telephone call. That’s a good thing and a sign you should start planning an even longer vacation.

You’ll also likely come back to an inbox full of issues that need your personal attention. Instead of busily finding answers to each problem in a frenzied attempt to clean up your inbox, slow down and look at each issue through the lens of a possible problem with your people, systems or authorizations

People – start with your people and answer the following questions:

  • Why did this issue or problem end up on my desk?
  • Who else is qualified to answer this question?
  • Why did the organization not contact and consult that person?
  • If nobody is qualified, who can be trained for the future?

In my many years of leading and working with companies, growing the capability of the team is the most important role of the leader. 

Systems – next, look at your systems and procedures: 

  • Could the issue have been dealt with if you had a system or a set of rules in place?
  • Whose department or area should be accountable for developing that system?
  • Can this issue be solved with system automation to remove the human element? 

The best systems are hardwired and do not require human interpretation; but if you’re not able to lock down a technical fix, then at least give employees a set of rules to follow in the future.

Authorizations – You may be a bottleneck in your own company if you’re trying to control all the spending too much. 

  • Did the employees know what to do but did not have any means of paying for the fix?
  • Can you put in customer service rules with financial limits of authority?

You might empower (and encourage) an employee to spend a specific amount with a specific supplier each month without coming to you first for authorizing every payment.  Or you might give an employee an annual budget, an amount they can spend without seeking your approval. 

Let your vacation strengthen your company

Given the fires that may need to be extinguished after the fact, taking a holiday may seem more of a hassle than it’s worth. But don’t be fooled – if you transform the aftermath of a vacation into systems and training that allow employees to act on their own, you’ll find the vacation is worth what you paid for it many times over. Your company will increase in value as it becomes less dependent on you personally. 

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At Executive Forums Silicon Valley, selected business owners and leaders work together to gain clarity, insight and accountability to ignite their leadership engines, grow their businesses and improve their lives. If you are interested in learning more about Business Owner Advisory Boards, Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), Stages of Growth, Value Builder System or becoming a member at Executive Forum Silicon Valley, please contact gperkins@executiveforums.com or call 408-901-0321. For more information visit http://www.execforumssv.com/.

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