Hijacked By Perfectionist Thinking? It’s Time To Tame The Beast.
You have high standards. That’s good; you need to be precise and avoid mistakes, you’re in a profession that demands precision and safety. You want a successful practice and if you don’t stay on top of your staff, important things might slip through the cracks.
On the outside, perfectionism certainly can appear as striving for excellence. But on the inside it’s quite a different story. The desire to achieve is hijacked by harsh judgment of self and others. Perhaps you achieve a lot but you’re miserable, and so are the people who work for you. Here’s an example of what one dental office employee said about her perfectionist boss:
“I don’t think she sees herself this way, but her style of leadership devalues the entire team. We never really feel like she trusts us. The whole office tries so hard to give her what she asks for but it is never good enough. She has her hand in everything. We are all so afraid of making mistakes and being criticized. Nobody feels like they own anything. There’s no creativity. No one really likes working here.”
Many perfectionists rationalize their behaviors with explanations such as, “I just expect a lot of myself” or “It’s not worth doing if you can’t do it right” or “Mistakes are inexcusable and unacceptable.” While it’s true that some mistakes must be avoided at all cost – sterilization errors for example – blunders and slips can also lead to improvements and learning. Did you know that the ice cream cone was invented when an ice cream vendor ran out of bowls? A fellow vendor, a waffle maker, gave him a waffle to roll up to hold the dripping ice cream. Did you know that post-it notes were invented because a 3M employee made an adhesive that was too weak? Some of the best learning happens when we make mistakes.
If you disagree, it’s likely that your thinking has been hijacked by the perfectionist monster. It’s time to stop thinking and acting as if outcomes are life and death affairs. Here are some steps to help you tame that beast.
Many successful dental leaders are described as intense, driven, or achievement oriented people. The inner critic certainly can have value by motivating you to change for the better. But if your inner critic is sabotaging your success and happiness, please give me a call.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like information about any of her practice-building seminars, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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