So here’s the thing: I am a perfectionist. I don’t say that in a snotty “I’m better than you” kind of way. I say it because it’s how I approach my work and the things I do in my life. If I cook, I cook to perfection. If I clean, I clean to perfection. Everything I do, I do to the very best of my ability so that, in my mind at least, it is perfect.
It’s a problem. I recognize it’s a problem and I will tell you why: perfectionists rarely get stuff done.
Now I know there are going to be some out there who will argue with this. “That’s you! I get stuff done,” they’ll say. I don’t doubt you get stuff done. Hell, I also get stuff done. Just not as much stuff as I COULD get done if I let go and allowed 1) other people to help me and 2) myself to ease up on the control I feel I have to have in EVERY situation so that things can be done “my way.” I venture to say I’d also have more energy to do some of the things I’d like to do (more writing, for example) if I gave myself permission to let go of my need for perfection and control.
With this in mind, I devised an experiment. I would start delegating some of the things I generally do myself because other people’s way of doing these things is not up to my standards. It began with telling my 16-year-old son to clean the bathroom. Now, cleaning the bathroom is a big deal for me. It has to be done a CERTAIN WAY. Otherwise, it is not RIGHT. I mean, even down to the way the soap and shampoo bottles are aligned. Right. As I am typing this, I can feel the anxiety mounting – even though this technically happened days ago, I can still feel the anxiety. Seriously.
Did he do it RIGHT? Yes and no. He did the bathroom RIGHT according to his own specifications. He did a great job making sure he properly cleaned and disinfected all of the surfaces. The chrome gleamed, the porcelain shined, and the mirror was streak free. I twitched a little when I noticed that he hadn’t emptied and cleaned out the bathroom’s trash container. I could feel my anxiety reach new heights as I saw he lined the bottles and soaps up his way, not mine. I fought the urge to “correct” it. I had to take a step back, for real because I realized something in that moment: The fact is, he did a great job. He did it his way and though it wasn’t MY way, it was perfection in HIS eyes. I had to appreciate the effort he made. I let him know he did a great job, that I was glad I could trust him with the responsibility, and that I would definitely be relying on him to clean the bathroom again. He was proud of his work. I beamed! I mean, I do have a great son. I’m one lucky mom!
Once he was out of sight, I fixed the shampoo bottles.