Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can speak about perfectionism, taking action and paralysis of analysis at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of this video is included below.


Full Video Transcript:

Hi and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to talk about perfectionists. Are you a perfectionist? If you are a perfectionist, I know it’s going to take more than one video to change that, I know that this is the way you are and you’ve been probably been this way your whole life, but I think we all have an element of perfectionism to us. So even if you don’t consider yourself a perfectionist, like I don’t consider myself a perfectionist, but at the end of the day there are varying extents, degrees, of being a perfectionist.

So let’s just talk it through, and certainly if you are a perfectionist I encourage you to give this some thought. Give this some thought because at the end of the day you only live once, right? You were born on one date and you’re going to die on another date, and right now we’re in between these two somewhere. I know that’s a really stark way of looking at it, but this is your time. This is it. If you’re going to do something with your life, it’s got to happen now. You got to take action now or else your life will fly by faster than you can imagine. I’m 43 years old. I cannot believe how fast I went from 33 to 43. And if you’re older than me, then you’re probably like oh, you’re still young, but you know how fast it goes and if you’re younger than me, watch out because you’re going to be there pretty quick.

So, perfectionists. Perfectionists never take action. They don’t take action because they’re scared. They have a fear of rejection, a fear of failure. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase paralysis of analysis. They don’t take action because it’s not perfect. It’s not perfect, so they hold back. They’re like, “It’s not perfect. I’m not going to do it.”

Now, here’s the first thing I want you to think about. Starting something is a lot harder than changing direction later. Changing direction is actually quite simple to do. You calibrate, you change direction, you make little adjustments along the way – fairly easy to do. Starting something, that’s the hard part. It’s like starting a new habit. If you want to go to the gym, like maybe you don’t go to the gym and you want to start going to the gym, that’s difficult. It’s difficult to do. Or maybe starting a diet – it’s difficult to start a diet. But once you’re in the mode, once it’s part of your routine, then you can make adjustments much easier. So get this starting part out of the way with.

Start now. Start immediately with whatever it is you’re trying to do. If you’re trying to start a business or add a new element to your business or even something in your personal life, start it right away. Get that part done and then change direction later. Changing direction is a lot easier than starting. The whole process of calibration and improving is easy and it’s even fun because you’re incrementally improving your situation. It’s starting that’s the hard part. So start, jump in the deep end. Picture yourself on a diving board just holding your nose and, “Let’s do it.” Jump in. Be okay with not being perfect.

I get nervous all the time. I do 40 events a year, roughly. I get nervous almost every single time I get on stage, and I’ve had bad events. I’ve had bad events. I had one in Nashville that did not go well. I did one in Salt Lake City that didn’t go well. So I’ve had bad events. Be okay with imperfection because that knowledge of experience, whatever it is you tried, you start to build confidence even if it doesn’t work that well. You get more familiar with the process and you start to make adjustments and you get much more comfortable with the process.

One of the things that I do, obviously making videos is a huge part of my business, and part of my life, by the way, I love making these videos, but I follow a lot of other business video bloggers—excuse me, they call them vloggers, right—on YouTube, and one of the things I love to do is go to their channels and sort their videos by oldest first. And you can see their oldest videos, and quite often they’re clumsy and they’re awkward and they’re weird, and you know those vloggers the way they are today and you’ve become accustomed to who they’ve become, but they weren’t like that the whole time. When they first started out, it was new to them, too, and they were just learning. So it’s reassuring. And certainly I have some of my own old videos –not good at all. They’re horrible, but I learned. You learn and you get better as you move along.

A lot of people, they want to maintain their perfection. So let’s say they’re batting a thousand but they’ve only ever been up at bat twice. They hit the ball both times and so they’re batting a thousand. Well, that’s not life experience. You’re not making any progress. You have nothing to protect. You’re batting a thousand. It doesn’t mean anything. The failure is where you learn and improve anyway.

So go up to bat more and swing your bat, and even if you miss the ball, if you strike out or if you get some hits that aren’t the ones you want, that’s the process of learning. Have your goals associated with the process and not the results. So if it’s going up to bat, say, “I want to go up to bat 10 times,” regardless of what happens. Start becoming more process-oriented and less results-oriented or outcome-oriented.

People talk about outcome dependence. Their validity, getting validation in life or their mood, like being happy, not happy, is all based on the outcome of something. You have to change that. You have to be more process-oriented so you can be happy if you went through the process even if you didn’t get the outcome you wanted. If you become more process-oriented, then you have control over your emotions, not that element of random of what the eventual outcome is. That’s not in your control. You have control over the steps you take, the actions you take, so focus on those and have your goals associated with taking action on something, not whether it works or whether it doesn’t work. That immediately is going to give you more confidence and it’s going to give you a lot more control over your emotional state and your happiness or lack thereof in your life. Have all your goals be process-oriented.

And like I said before, if it doesn’t work—and I got to tell you, I try tons of things all the time and at least two-thirds of what I try does not work. Like my business is so riddled with failure, it’s incredible. I’m like a professional failure. I’ve failed at so many things because I constantly try new things and most of them don’t work. But when I try something and it fails, it allows me to learn. It allows me to calibrate. I’m like, “Okay, how did that work? How did it not work? Maybe if I try it this way or that way and I do it again and…oh, now it worked a little bit better.” You make more adjustments and eventually you really start to figure it out. But the reason it works is because you go out there and try more things, and if you’re a perfectionist you hold back from that.

So if you’re a total perfectionist, or even if you’re just a little bit of a perfectionist like we all are to some extent—in some areas I am too—my challenge to you is to try more things. Just take maybe the top five or 10 things that you’ve been meaning to try and just get them done, even if they fail, and just analyze and look at it and ask yourself, “Why did this work? Why did it not work?” and immediately you’ll start seeing that you’ll improve and move forward as a result.

Thanks for watching this video. My name is Patrick, encouraging you as always to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.

Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.