Our Outperforming Movement is about high expectations…of ourselves.

Have you ever considered yourself a perfectionist? If you haven’t, you’ve probably heard someone claim they are. It’s one of the most widely studied personality characteristics.

Because of the cancer struggles with Mom, I’m trying to spend more time in MN and I decided to go back to St Olaf University for the spring semester to teach Sport & Exercise Psychology (for those of you who don’t know Olaf…it’s a private liberal arts college in MN. Good school, good kids.).

Last week we talked about personality theory, and more specifically, perfectionism.

Like most things, a certain level of “perfectionism” is beneficial, but too much means we cannot get the best out of ourselves, or others.

Perfectionism is separated into three areas:

Self-oriented perfectionism (SOP): how much you hold yourself to your own high standards and evaluate yourself based on meeting these standards

Socially-prescribed perfectionism (SPP): how much you believe others hold high standards for you and base your approval of meeting these standards

Other-oriented perfectionism (OOP): how much you hold others to extremely high standards

You can probably spot the inherent weaknesses in these…

For socially-prescribed perfectionism, any time you believe you’re letting someone down, criticized or you feel you’re not meeting the standards of others, you’ll have anxiety…and possibly depression. Think of your team members, peers, direct reports, etc. How do they respond after receiving constructive feedback?

For other-oriented perfectionism, if you don’t believe others can meet your extremely high standards, you’re going to have problems delegating. You’ll want to control the process from A-to-Z because no one can do it as well as you. Team members may also perceive you as overly critical and/or judgmental.

The remedy to both of these? Have higher expectations of yourself than anyone else could possibly have of you. Be the example. March to the beat of your own drum.

This is, in a nutshell, self-oriented perfectionism. It is where Outperformers live. In addition, here are three quick tips that I’ve given many high achievers with whom I’ve worked:

1 – Instead of initially telling people your expectations of them, ask what expectations they have of themselves. Then, fine-tune it based on what really needs to get done. Creating shared buy-in is key.

2 – Message appropriately. If someone doesn’t meet your expectations, say something like, “The reason I expect so much of you is because I know you’re capable of Outperforming and I believe in you.” If you don’t do this, others may perceive you as high in OOP and think you’re too rigid and demanding. They should come away from this conversation feeling happy and empowered that you have such high expectations of their performance.

3 – “There is no failure; only feedback,” is one of my favorite lines. I’ve never seen any great company or athletic team that has Outperformed when they’re constantly worried about making mistakes. Do away with dichotomous thinking of good/bad, black/white, failed/succeeded, won/lost, and instead encourage a culture of progress in the pursuit of perfection (knowing it will never fully be attained).

Wishing you an Outperforming week,

– Scott

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