I tried selling life insurance for a short season in my young 30s. It sounded great, helping people move toward financial security, but I wasn’t getting it done. If I had known then what I now know about myself – ASD, ADD, anxiety when things aren’t perfect, “filter problems” – saying the wrong thing – I could have avoided that year of stress. But I did learn something about myself back then, and the idea has stuck with me as a signal for when I am too worried about things being perfect.
One of the sales books I read as part of my training listed several types of salespeople and how some of these characteristics could stunt progress. I was fascinated by how close I came to one called “Hyper-Pro.” The Hyper-Pro couldn’t move forward, couldn’t call, couldn’t get going with whatever would logically be next in the sales process if something was not perfect. “I don’t have the right suit.” “I don’t have the right pen for the client to sign the papers.” If anything about the person did not fit his or her image of a perfect, professional salesperson, forward momentum stopped.
I saw this in me at the time, and I see it now on some occasions. The reason I am writing about it now — it’s plaguing me as I am trying to launch this very website. “Bart, you need to have everything perfect, every font, every color, all the design aspects just right before you hit that launch button. You are not going to be effective; you are going to get laughed at and criticized, you will disappoint yourself and others if you don’t.”
Fortunately, I’ve set a goal for April – Autism Awareness Month, and…I was just reading some Brene Brown material about perfectionism. (Daring Greatly – still reading it. I read her book The Gifts of Imperfection with a men’s group a while back – both helpful in getting over myself!) Perfectionism holds a lot of people back, not just those of us who aren’t neurotypical.
I heard a preacher explain a long time ago that it is hard to steer a parked car. Once the car is moving, it’s easy to steer! So, I will be steering Manual Transmission while in motion, instead of stuck with a recovering Hyper-Pro behind the wheel. If you find errors or have suggestions, send them my way. But this parked car is parked no more!