“By being my incompetent self, I seem to have weeded out the friends and acquaintances who can’t stand my inadequacies. Each year I’m surrounded by more kind, understanding people who seem willing to love the messes I make.” —Martha Beck
Even if you don’t know that Martha Beck is a life coach and author of several really good books on practical steps to live the life you would like to build for yourself, the quote above is a wake-up call. For whom? To all of us who are people-pleasers and perfectionists. And I live in both of those skins.
When you own your business, you do have to pay attention to your clients–take care of them, offer the best you have to give, and, yes, please them. The interesting part is using only the part of yourself you are willing to give away to do the pleasing. And as a life-long people-pleaser, I have woken up more than one morning, having given away too much to a client. Too much strength. Too much time. Too much money. It’s like the entrepreneurial walk of shame, because you can’t take it back. That makes you dishonest or hypocritical.
Perfectionists? Are you here with me? We are the ones who always offer to do the work over, for free. Or over-commit when we our up to our necks in work, because we want to show that we can do the work. And do it perfectly. Of course, we can’t. We aren’t perfect. And while we know that, we still run after the proof as if we could make it happen this time. Or next time.
The same thing happens with friendships. We want to please our friends. We want to be the perfect friend for them. And then, one day, we slip. We displease them. And then, (gasp!) we realize that some of our friends think they are entitled to being pleased. Entitled to our (attempts at) perfection.
When we get down of our pedestals, our friends may complain. Make demands. And that, my clever writer friends, is when we need to become editors of our own lives.
We can edit our lives to change it from first person (“I have to do it all perfectly”) to second person, (“you can help by loving my imperfect self.”) We can use our voices to be less passive and more active. (From, “Perfection is a state to strive for,” to “I no longer have the time to be perfect. I’m settling for ‘git ‘er done.'”)
And occasionally, if we have friends who do not want to be anything else than the subject of our lives, and never the object, well, then sometimes it’s just fine to find a synonym friend, or hit the delete key on a relationship.
—Quinn McDonald uses words in professional and personal relationships. And she edits.