The dream killer: perfectionism.

Perfectionism is a sure way to never get started or to never be ok with the work that you put forth (and therefore, we withhold it). Either route is a dream killer.

Hi. I’m dominique. I’m a perfectionist. A perfectionist who prefers to think that I am not a perfectionist. That might even be worse. I haven’t decided yet.

The odd thing is, I 100% believe in the need for failure. The lessons learned are invaluable. They shape who we are and who we will become. I know this. I believe this. I know I need it.

Then there’s the whole “balance” thing. You know what I mean, “practice makes perfect.” blah blah blah. So does that mean I SHOULD strive for perfection? (this is me reasoning and rationalizing crazy with myself)

I have always just had this very strong internal need to do and achieve something great. But “great” by who’s standards? Well, my own, I guess. These really really REALLY high standards I have set for myself.

And so I feel it necessary to bring my A Game 100% of the time. I don’t half-ass anything ever. I can’t.

Eventually this will lead me to a point of exhaustion and stretching myself too thin. Or even confronted with life (or my very honest Mexican Mother) that I am not present and am too focused on the wrong things. That’s never fun. Then I’m exhausted AND feel like a giant ass hole.

But ultimately, what I’ve discovered, is that perfectionism is rooted in fear. Fear of something less than worthy. If it’s not perfect, it’s a poor representation of me. And remember, I want greatness.

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So I stop. I sit in quiet. I remind myself that I am human. And these super high standards I have put on myself, I would never allow another human to beat themselves up over. So I shouldn’t beat myself up either. And neither should you.

If we beat ourselves up to the point where we refuse to dream because we refuse to fail, then we’ve lost. I just don’t think that’s what this life is about. The world needs our gifts and our thoughts. It’s about you being you and me being me. Each day we can each bring what we have to give. Some days we will have more to offer than other days. That’s ok. It’s ok to be honest about it.

We don’t need perfection. We just need each other. Honest. Raw. And real.

So let’s remember to take it easy on ourselves. I know I could use a reminder every once and a while, and even a little encouragement here and there. You may too. If that’s the case, here you go: You’re doing a great job. Thank you for all of your hard work. It matters and you make a difference. Don’t try to convince yourself otherwise.

Now, go and remind somebody else who may need to hear that as well.

You have a gift.

Have you ever been in that place where you have wondered if you should be doing more with your life?

I think we probably all have.

I think there’s a reason for that.

The truth is that there is more. And I think you know that. But you’ve reasoned enough with yourself. You’ve gotten comfortable. So, your life that you’re living now is merely what you do.

But is it who you are? Does everything you do in your life have your own stamp on it? Do you go to sleep at night proud of your accomplishments. Do you feel you’ve contributed value to the world? Does your passion and influence rub off on others?

Or do you not believe in all of that self-help garbage? Were you meant to just show up? So you are here, potentially numb to life and the things around you.

I was. For years. I had dreams, hopes and aspirations. I gave them everything I had. Until I couldn’t anymore. Then I stopped. I settled for the idea of just letting life happen. Wallowed.

And then one day I woke up. It was like somebody grabbed me and shook me. I was reminded that I believed in something and it was important to me. There was a message that I was supposed to be sharing.(for more details of my personal journey, check out the post, “Are you ashamed of your jalopy?“)

So here I am. Finally sharing it. A message that I discovered when I was 20 years old. It only took me 11 years to get to this moment right now. (Sorry for the delay.)

My message is that there is more. Specifically, there is more in you. There is more for you to discover and more for you to share. My purpose is to pull it out of you and show it off to the world.

So, let’s talk. I like to ask questions. Dig deep. I might annoy you or call you out, but I will not relent. Because I believe. I believe you have a purpose and a gift. The good news is that it doesn’t matter how your gift has been packaged or wrapped. That’s just an excuse. An excuse to keep you comfortable and safe. The true gift is what’s inside of you waiting to be shared.

This is going to take risk. It’s going to be scary. But it will be worth it.

It’s time to lead the life you were meant to live. Let’s get started. Together.

What is the thing you have always wanted to do but have kept inside, scared to even share the thought out loud? What has been your reason for not pursuing it? Share in the comments.

If you think you’re ready, you’re probably not.

If you’ve ever worked for a company for any amount of time, you are aware of who is probably trying really hard to get promoted to the next level. That person might even be you.

The interesting truth, though, is that we might know this solely based on the fact this is all that person talks about. Not necessarily because they are actually ready to be promoted. What makes it interesting is that talking is generally not what gets one promoted to the next level. It’s doing. It’s action. So if you find most of your conversations are you complaining about why you haven’t been promoted yet, you probably aren’t actually doing anything.

Let’s be honest, most people probably assume they are farther along than they really are. This is generally due to a couple of things.

  1. Lack of Maturity. 
    When we are young, most of us can’t see past ourselves. We are the most capable of figuring it all out. There is no fear of failure, because we haven’t truly failed big yet (nor have we actually tried). We haven’t been put in our place after saying the very stupid thing we should have never allowed to escape our mouth (Donna, I am still sorry about that one thing I said about your son). We still think talking gets more done than doing. We are looking to point the fingers at the “wrong” things, rather than focusing on all the right and then offering new ideas to implement and further growth. Basically, we are immature and selfish. Hopefully, we are not still in this place after 25.
  2. Lack of Experience
    We might have matured now, but still haven’t been truly challenged or tasked with the “doing” part. We have learned about having a “filter” and can navigate political conversations, but outside of that, we are just smooth talkers.
  3. Lack of Perspective
    Ok, so maybe now you’ve figured out how to not upset a bunch of people verbally. You’ve gotten a few opportunities at proving yourself with some projects and have been able to accomplish a handful of great things. But you haven’t been fully able to articulate the “what needs to be done” with the “why.” Or perhaps even understand it for yourself (maybe you’re really self-motivated) but struggle articulating this to a team. This happens to be where a lot of people get stuck. Lack of seeing the bigger picture. This gap can cause an “us vs. them” mentality between a team and its leaders. The person on the team who can align with the vision of the leadership and simplify the message to their peers, helping to get them all on the same page, is invaluable.

You might even already be seen as a “leader” amongst your team. But if you are over-aligning with the team and not holding them to the standard necessary to achieve excellence that has been set by your leaders, you are more dangerous than an under-performer. Yes. I said that. You have the potential to steer an entire team in the wrong direction. All this creates is chaos and division, leading to low morale and people who hate going to their jobs. The place they invest most of their life. Nobody wins. Not leaders. Not team members.

Hear me out, nobody is asking you to become a mindless robot and do whatever your leadership says to do (or be the hard-ass rule follower that everyone else can’t stand to be around). If you want to get to the next level, you should be willing to do 2 things. First, be willing to seek clarity on messages or a vision you may not understand or even believe in (this shows humility and willingness to grow). Second, once you have clarity, be brave enough to share additional thoughts and ideas on what is necessary to achieve the goals of a particular vision.

Seeking clarity will give you the perspective necessary to help motivate others. Somebody who has a great perspective, great relationships and takes action is a person who others will want on their team. They pull out the best in themselves and others.

People who no longer assume they are “ready” have big failures behind their belt. Moments that have humbled them. These people who have experienced great failure, have also probably learned what it means to persevere. In turn, they find themselves continuously learning. It never stops.

“Ready” becomes a relative term because they are already doing.

So where are you? Still maturing? Still searching for experience? Seeking clarity to gain perspective? Which is preventing you from truly being ready?

Are you ashamed of your jalopy?

The Orange Car

About 6 years ago I was driving home down a dark street, with tears on my cheeks and a rage inside of me. I had given up on my dreams of being a rockstar after leaving my band that was nothing but drama. The economy crashed and so did my education because my parents could no longer afford to continue to pay my way. Both my plan A & plan B were gone. I was filled with rage for 2 reasons. 1. I was the only person to blame for walking away from my pursuit of music and being some big rockstar. 2. My biggest dream currently was to receive a full-time position at a retail store so that I could somehow continue to pay my bills.

So, I coasted. Sure, I finally hit my goal of full-time at a retail store, and even got promoted a couple more times, mostly just because I am naturally driven. But I had no huge aspirations. I grew in my company because I believe that’s what we are supposed to do; learn and grow. But in my mind, it was still “retail.” The very type of work I swore I would never be involved with again after my departing from Old Navy as a teenager (folding a table of T-shirts just to be unfolded and plopped down again, made me want to kill myself. I know that sounds dramatic, but I was 17. Everything is dramatic when you’re 17).

Retail for me was kind of like your first car, it’s a jalopy, but it gets you to where you need to go. I was young and needed work, so I took what I could get to pay some bills. I was definitely a bit embarrassed of working for some retailer rather than touring the world and rocking peoples’ faces off. So to be back in retail, after 5 years of college and internships, it felt even more shameful.

After a couple years at my company, I had a very big realization. My core values hadn’t changed, only the outside perception of myself and of what I felt others had of me, changed.

As I have explained several times, my deep sense of purpose in life has been to encourage others to pursue their dreams and passions. I have known this since I was 18 years old. I discovered it after some good old fashioned therapy. This one fact about myself had not changed. It was still what got me fired up in life. However, I allowed my outside circumstances to quench that fire. I focused more on my banged up vehicle than the actual destination I was needing to arrive at. The truth was, my jalopy could still help me arrive at my destination of pursuing my core purpose.

Even in retail, I could still encourage others to pursue their passions. I could still challenge others to make goals and go after them. I could still believe that these things were attainable for them and with them.

Once I got over myself and my shame of being in “retail” and re-connected with my true purpose, I discovered the true amount of infinite opportunity that my company truly had to offer. My retail company also happens to be in the top 5 of fortune 500 companies in the world.

When I realized that my vehicle was what merely gets me TO my destination, it didn’t matter if I was driving a jalopy or a Mercedes. I was only causing my own despair and devastation by creating unnecessary expectations for myself that were actually holding me back from pursuing my purpose. Our purpose should be what drives us. It should be our fuel. What kind of gas tank it goes in, doesn’t matter.

Don’t be ashamed of your vehicle. I have learned more working for this retail company than any education could have taught me. I just needed to realize how important it was to appreciate the journey and know what should be my fuel to keep me on course.

Once I allowed my purpose to fuel me, and aligned it with my current vehicle at my company, I took off. I was willing to grow and take advantage of all that was available to me. I am still learning, but I choose to continue to grow.

Someday, as it did once before, my vehicle may change. But I will be far more open to it next time. As long as I remain true to my core values, that will be what drives me forward. When we are open to growth and change, opportunities present themselves constantly. We may just need to be willing to overlook a bad paint job.

So, what about you? Are you confusing your vehicle with your purpose? Or are you letting your purpose be what fuels you to reach your destiny…errr…destination?