Today, I want to talk to you about a label I hear all of the time from my athletes and their parents, PERFECTIONIST. When you hear that word what does it make you think of? Would you consider yourself a perfectionist?
If yes, you probably experienced one of a few different reactions … Did you fill with a sense of pride thinking, “Yes, I am a perfectionist and proud of it. I have to be the best!”? Or maybe you thought “That has always been my problem, nothing is ever good enough, but I can’t help it, it’s the way I am wired.”
Maybe you are not a perfectionist, but you have a child or spouse who is. If your child is the one that comes to mind, who do they get their tendencies from? Whether you consider yourself a perfectionist or not we are all affected by perfectionism in some way.
In my mental coaching business, most of the athletes I work with struggle with perfectionism.
- They constantly leave games feeling frustrated with their performance.
- They obsess about every detail of their skills.
- Mistakes, especially in competition, cause them to lose motivation and they continue to replay errors over and over again.
- They struggle to feel like their skills are good enough.
- They worry about missing a practice or falling behind if they are not constantly working on improving their skills.
- Their parents and coaches see their amazing ‘potential’ and comment that they could be unstoppable or get to the next level if they could just get out of their own head.
Even if they do not know what to call it, they know the thing that is holding them back is their need for perfection however they hold onto their beliefs with a death grip. One of the most common beliefs perfectionists hold is “if I am not striving for perfection, it means I am not trying to be my best”. This shows up every time they try something new to feel better about their game only to end up right back where they were.
Perfectionism is defined as “a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection.” A person who REFUSES to accept…! Ever feel like you (or your athlete) struggle to gain confidence? Let’s look at the definition of confidence; Confidence is defined as “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of their own abilities or qualities.”
So you have a choice… 1) you can chose to hold onto perfectionist beliefs and refuse to accept yourself as good enough or 2) you can loosen the grip you have on your perfectionist beliefs and feel self-assured by appreciating your abilities. Perfectionist beliefs hold you back. Appreciation for yourself and attention to the good things you do and ways you excel builds confidence and helps you truly thrive. When you feel good about what you do you have more fun!
Today if you are willing to be open to the idea that your perfectionism is not actually serving you but rather getting in the way of success, I will teach you 4 ways you can use your perfectionist tendencies to your advantage. Here are the 4 beliefs of Confident Perfectionists.
Belief #1: PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION.
I know I know, you are probably thinking “I have heard this 1,000,000 times before.” You may have even written this down and used it as motivation. Take 1 minute and really think about this statement. What does it ACTUALLY mean? What does this look like in real life, not just as a mantra that sounds good? To me, progress over perfection means moving forward instead of getting everything exactly right. Said another way, trying to get everything exactly right gets in the way of moving forward. If you are not seeing the results you desire, it is likely that you are measuring your success by an unrealistic standard.
Do you go into games with the pressure to not make any mistakes? When you try a new skill or position do you expect to do it exactly right the first try (or after a few tries)? You have decided that ‘success’ looks like not making any mistakes and your performance needs to look and feel correct. You are setting yourself up for failure or at best, for disappointment.
The good news is that if you notice these high expectations in your performance, you are already making progress. Once you are aware of your high standards you can let them go and instead focus on progress. Here is the way to do that: instead of comparing your performance against perfect, ask yourself what you did well. What 2 things did you do well at practice or in the game? Better yet, write these down in a notebook and keep track of them. If you had a list of all of the things you do well every day would you begin to appreciate your abilities and qualities? I bet you would even feel more self-assured… Hello Confident Perfectionist!
Belief #2: THERE ARE ALWAYS SECOND CHANCES.
“Wait, but I have to do it right the first time! I do not want to need a second chance!” It is very possible that when you heard belief #2 deep down you felt something similar to this statement. If you did not think this then I want you to consider something else. How often do you get stuck because you are afraid of failing? You put pressure on yourself to make every play or land every skill every time because messing up is not acceptable. If you mess up it may mean that you are letting down your team, coaches, and parents. Maybe you would feel embarrassed or fear being made fun of. If you have ever felt pressure because of these things you have been affected by fear of failure. But what if I mess up… My response “SO WHAT IF YOU FAIL?!”
If you are anxious and fearful while performing because of this fear, take time to really answer this question. “What is the worst thing that can happen?” OK. Now, if that thing happened, what would you do? When I work with athletes in my private coaching programs, I help them break down their fears, and every single time we arrive at a place where they know they would be ok. With mistakes come opportunities for growth.
If you have ever not acted on something that feels important to you, is it because you are afraid to fail? You are trying to get to a place where you feel confident nothing bad will happen and that you are 100% ready to succeed to move forward and get started. Instead, what if you decided what the first or next step would be and trust that things will be ok. Confidence comes from putting yourself in uncertain situations and coming out ok. Remember there are always second chances so do not be afraid to fail. It will be ok.
Belief #3: IT IS OK TO FEEL AFRAID.
Confidence comes from appreciating your own abilities. How much appreciation would you have for yourself if you accomplished something EVEN THOUGH you were afraid? Fear does not mean that something bad will happen. The feeling of fear is meant to keep you safe and protect you from harm which is SO HELPFUL when we are being chased by a bear or really big dog. BUT, It is not helpful when it is trying to keep you in your comfort zone.
Growth can be scary as well as doing new things. We do not know the outcome or how things will turn out so we feel fearful. When we feel fear our body is trying to prepare us to move out of our comfort zone. Instead of allowing that feeling to keep you from taking action, lean into it and turn it into excitement about what could be possible by believing in yourself and taking a chance? Confident people do not get that way by never being afraid. They develop confidence from feeling the fear and choosing to move anyways.
Belief #4: DOING THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WELL IS BETTER THAN DOING IT ALL PERFECTLY.
As a naturally more perfectionist person myself, I have been working on accepting this belief wholeheartedly my entire adult life. When I want to succeed at something, my list of to-dos is 100 pages long. When I want to get healthy I have to stick to a meal plan, cut out all sugar, drink water only, reduce caffeine, workout 7 days per week, stretch and run 5 days per week, lose 10 pounds, gain muscle, tone up, take vitamins, get up earlier, and the list goes on and on and … you get the idea.
If I want to do something well, I have to do EVERYTHING EXACTLY RIGHT or it is not worth doing. Sound familiar? You are working on getting a new tumbling skill and before you have even done 1 by yourself, you are already worried about not having pointed toes, straight legs, enough power but not too much, making it look easy but not too easy, making your parents and coaches proud, and doing the skill 5 times in the routine the same week… Any idea why you may be feeling anxious about getting the skill??!!
Instead of focusing on every single thing you could do to achieve the outcome you desire, pick ONE THING and focus fully on that. With the tumbling example above, instead of that long list of all of the things you could do, what if you focused on jumping hard. If you let go of all of the other things (i.e. distractions) and focused only on jumping well is it possible that you would get closer to having the skill by yourself? YES! When you focus on 1 thing that is ACTUALLY HELPFUL and does not feel like pressure, you are more likely to see progress and move closer to the result you want. The ability to focus on needle movers and what matters and let go of all of the distractions that get in the way is one of mental game skills I help my private coaching athletes develop. This is where one of the biggest transformations happen. “When you focus on everything, nothing is important” (source unknown) so pick 1 thing and get ready for progress!
What do you think would happen in your performance if you replaced unhelpful beliefs with the ones I just shared with you? I can tell you from experience personally and from the hundreds of athletes I have supported as a coach, you would become more confident. Not only that, but you would have more energy and excitement for practice and performances and games. You would notice that you feel better about yourself and would feel like you are ACTUALLY SUCCEEDING and moving towards your goals. Best of all, you would believe in yourself and have so much more fun!
If you found this information helpful, I have a freebie for you…
You can access my, THE CONFIDENT PERFECTIONIST TRAINING here: [free training]
DID THIS RESONATE WITH YOU?
As a mental performance coach, my job is to help athletes understand how to become aware of the behaviors, thoughts, and fears that are affecting their mental game. We 1) identify what thoughts and feelings are present 2) work to recognize when they are triggered and 3) create strategies for more positive and effective thoughts and behaviors.
My goal is to help them move through their fears to regain their passion for their sport, achieve their goals, and ultimately experience more joy in their sport and life.
Are you ready to learn how mental performance coaching can help you? Click here to schedule a no-cost Performance Check Session.
Space is limited so if you are ready to take action and start tackling those blocks and fears, reserve your spot today!
One-on-one mental coaching is the fastest and most effective method to improve your mental game, boost your performance, and make lasting changes.