Monday, January 10, 2011

Why I Killed the Perfectionist in Me

Practice Makes Perfect
I make mistakes (a lot of mistakes). But, back when I considered myself a perfectionist this was not the case. I avoided doing anything if I couldn't do it just right, and that prevented me from doing a lot. I know now that mistakes are just part of the learning process and the only way that you are going to have success. You need to fail to succeed. This sounds absurdly simple, and I'm sure you've heard it before, but are you using it to your full advantage?

This simple revelation means big things for anyone who wants to be successful. The more you do, the more practice you have at your specific skill, hobby, or career. And with more practice comes a greater likelihood of success. Just ask Malcolm Gladwell. In his book "Outliers" Malcolm talks about how people like Bill Gates and The Beatles got successful by practicing. How much practice you ask? Malcolm claims it takes about 10,000 hours or ten years to become a master. So, what does this mean? If your going to practice that much you better not be afraid to make mistakes, because your going to have a lot of them.

Another key component to success is having a growth mindset (instead of a fixed mindset). Micheal Richard does a wonderful job explaining the difference between the two mindsets in this article, but here is my take.

Which One Sounds More Like You?
A fixed mindset means that you believe that intelligence is static. People with this tendency believe that they are the way they are and that every challenge is an assessment of their skills. They will therefore tend to avoid challenges unless they know they will succeed. As a result they tend to plateau in their success, because they avoid hard tasks where the outcome is uncertain.

A growth mindset on the other hand, means that you believe intelligence is dynamic. People with this tendency believe that the brain is like a muscle and that you can train it to improve. They will therefore embrace challenges, because they will see it as a chance to grow. As a result they tend to reach higher levels of achievement.

My Experience
In my past, I had a fixed mindset. If I was going up against someone in an activity in which I was not good at (let's say basketball), I would be embarrassed, and I wouldn't want to participate. I saw it as an assessment of my skill. By not participating I was missing great opportunities to learn from people who were better than I was. But, after reading Brain Rules and Drive I saw the advantage of changing my mindset. From my experience, this simple switch in thinking has opened up a ton of doors for me. Now, I accept those challenges, and I see them as an opportunity to grow.

You don't have to be perfect, and challenges make you better as long as you are open to growth. These two ideas go hand in hand, with these ideas, you can strip down the barriers to achievement and reach your 2011 goals. This blog isn't perfect, but I'm improving, and that's my goal. Do you have any feedback for me? Any comments or criticism?