Are you a Perfectionist?

Who here is a perfectionist? Who would like to have Career Super Powers?

Have you ever not done something for fear you’ll be no good at it?

I can certainly hold my hand up to this!  I won’t go bowling…I’m pretty sure I would hate it anyway (lol), but my initial hatred began because I wasn’t amazing at it from the get go.  How stupid is that.  But is it?  I’ve been the perfect child in my family.  I got great results at school, I never really got into trouble (it’s amazing what a perception of perfection can mask), and I seemed to be a good all-rounder.

This worked well for me at school, probably because it played to my strengths, and my striving for perfectionism was strongly encouraged.  I remember coming home once with 97% in a maths exam, I was over the moon!  It was a score dramatically higher than anyone else in my class.  What did my dad say?

“What happened to the other 3 percent?”

Crushed.  It worked for a while to make me try harder, but it was definitely having an impact that would rear it’s head later.  I’d like to declare that my Dad was in fact lovely, in case you’re thinking he was a tyrant, but this wasn’t his finest trait.

Career Limiting Behaviour

Once out in the real world of work, boy did it limit me.  I feared failure big time.  It would take a major push for me to put myself out there.  Presentations, meetings, going for projects that would be great for me…I held back.  If I was forced I’d step up, in quaking shoes, and do it.  Put myself out there voluntarily?  Hell no!

Limited by Fear

As you can imagine, this was pretty career-limiting.  My fear was stopping me from achieving my real potential.  It was preventing me from getting to where I knew I should be.  I realised the big thing that was holding me back, was me!  Thankfully I realised this, and did something about it, which I’ll share below, but what I didn’t realise then is; it wasn’t my fault!  I had been conditioned that way.


The Greatest Career Super Powers

What I’m talking about is a fixed versus a growth mindset.  This is the Carlsberg of Career Super Powers.  It’s is all about your attitude to failure, and is based on some ground-breaking research of children, carried out by Carol Dweck.

The effect of childhood

We have beliefs about ourselves and our abilities that are shaped in childhood.  Those that have a fixed mindset believe our intelligence, and ability is fixed.  That we are either inherently good at something or not.  Whereas those with a growth mindset believe that intelligence and new skills are developed through effort.  I see this played out a lot in the workplace, and specifically with women.

Interestingly, as women, we are more likely to be raised to have a fixed mindset.  For example girls tend to get praised for results, boys tend to get praised for effort.  It’s funny, because it seems at times like it comes about because of low-expectations of boys.  Thought process:

“Ah sure he can’t be bothered, so if I keep telling him he’s great for trying it might work”.

And the opposite for girls, our expectations are high

“she’s such a good girl, sure look at the results she gets”.

(I’ve just noticed my inner voice is Irish!)


This is a HUGE problem.  A girl’s self-worth can become built upon the results she gets.  So if she feels she’s going to fail, then she might avoid doing whatever it is altogether.  She fears looking bad, losing the positive perception of her, and possibly losing the love of those around her.  Boys on the other hand, get used to having a go, and not really feeling too worried about the results.  I’m not saying this is the way everyone is brought up, but it has been shown to be a dominant trait in child-rearing.

So how does it feel to know it’s not your fault?

It’s pretty freeing, right!  What’s even better is knowing that we can change it.  The growth mindset is something we can develop.

The discovery of neuroplasticity has shown us that we have the capability to rewire our brains.  This has been the best news, because it means that with effort, we can change any of our mindsets.  We have the opportunity to develop new skills and increase our intelligence.  All it takes is a little effort, or maybe a lot in some cases.  I remember reading a book called Bounce: The Myth of Talent and The Power of Practice by an Olympian, Matthew Syed.  Where he grew up there was an unusually large amount of successful table tennis champions, he was the top player in England for 10 years.  Not because of the gene pool, but because he lived in the catchment area of a primary school where one of the teachers happened to be a top coach in the sport.

Top Tips To Develop A Growth Mindset that develops your Career Super Powers

Undoubtedly practise is important to growing new skills, and I think deep down we all know that.  But mindset is key, so I’m going to share a few tips to help you get there:

1. Train your inner voice

It mistakenly thinks it’s keeping you safe from failure and hurt, so is actively discouraging you from pushing outside of your comfort zone.  But it’s LYING to you.  You’re not going to die when you do a presentation (unless you’re sky diving at the time), or going for the job, or whatever it is you’re holding yourself back  from.  Start hearing what it’s saying, tell it to shut the hell up, and give it something better to say instead.  Like, “I can do this”, “every time I do it I get better and better”.

2. Check your beliefs

We have a really warped view of so-called failure!  Failure is great.  Unquestionably failure teaches you loads of things.  How about thinking of failure as learning.  After all there’s no such thing as failure only winning and learning.  How cool is that?  Turn the word failure to learning!

3. Have a go at things you know you can’t do

Just for the joy of ‘failing’. Small things.  Things that you don’t care about, to take the sting out of it.  You’ll quickly realise it doesn’t really matter.  Go bowling, try that dance class you’ve been thinking about, whatever it is.  You may even have fun!

4. Notice the things you do well

By writing down at least one thing every day! We spend so much time beating ourselves up over the bad stuff, that we forget to notice the good stuff.  What’s that doing for your confidence?  When we take the time to notice the good, we’re rewiring our brain to pay more attention to it.  You’ll notice you’re getting better at things, and that will encourage your growth mindset.  It also means you stop looking for external approval and start looking to yourself for the pat on the back. You own your own Career Super Powers.

5. Celebrate your wins – big and small

Share them in the Career Winners group, treat yourself to a new book, get yourself a manicure, have a glass of prosecco (or a few ?)

6. Think about your why?

For example you’ve been avoiding doing presentations, and you’ve convinced yourself it doesn’t really matter.  Examine why you still have that nagging about it.  Is it because you know it would be good exposure for you to build your profile?  Is it because you know it would be great to conquer your fear and have that sense of achievement?  Those are a bigger purpose.  If we can tap into that then it becomes bigger than the fear that’s right in front of us.

7. Focus on good enough instead of perfection

Perfection isn’t real!  And a little secret, no-one likes people that are perfect anyway.  It makes them feel bad about themselves.  They like your flaws, because it makes their flaws OK too,  So really you’re performing a public service. Plus it eases a lot of stress.

8. Use the word YET

“I’m not good at that, YET!”, “I haven’t learned that, YET!”…it’s a signal to your brain that the door isn’t closed, it’s still going to happen, so to give yourself a break.

9. Ease up on yourself

Start talking to yourself like you would your best friend.  Treat yourself with love, kindness, and respect…you’re worth it.  After all, you do have Career Super Powers!


If you’d love to get some help growing your mindset and gaining Career Super Powers, come join us in the Career Winners Facebook Group.  Here you’ll get lots of support and free tips and help to win at your career.