Perfectionism – The Un-Live-Able GOAL!

Do you often find yourself finding it difficult to get past an idea?

Do you wait until everything is ‘PERFECT’ before telling or doing anything?

Do you often find yourself ‘UNHAPPY’ with the outcome and feel that you could have done better?

Many of us experience such emotions that cause immense ‘STRESS’ not just to ourselves but also to those who interact with us – family, friends, and co-workers.

And for the perfectionist in us, it is normal to feel this way.


When we have a thought or idea that we want to do or get across, we have to communicate to
other people. Many do not get past this stage of wanting to, for they decide that they will wait
until everything is perfect before they tell anyone or do anything.

I have heard people say that they’ll start when they have more money, and time, learn more,
practice more, when the kids are older, etc, etc, etc. The challenge with this is there is no perfect time.

The best time to get started is now. Yes, you may need to be selective at first with whom you talk to as there are negative people out there who may try to stop you or shut you down. Yet, I have found that most people shut themselves down by their fears and need to have everything just so.

I was talking to this lady who wanted to go to a job interview. She had spoken to her sister about the interview. Her sister replied, “make sure you do the interview perfectly because in this city people know each other and if you blow it, you can kiss your career goodbye”.

WOW, no pressure there. Going into an interview with that in your mind is a good way to blow it. You will probably be terrified, which can cause the mistakes you are trying to prevent. I have heard things like this before, yet most people are not sitting there just waiting to crush other people who come in. I have found that most are kind, generous, and helpful. What you need is encouragement and just to do your best. The world does not end with a bad interview.

Reality is much brighter when you look at the most successful people out there. They repeatedly said that they failed their way to the top, that they learned from their mistakes, and went on. There are millionaires that lost everything, brushed themselves off, and then created millions. They talked to people and connected with them. You can’t succeed by being a hermit.

We are not born with all knowledge of all things. We are not robots, calculating our every move. We are human beings that learn by what we do. We discover by how we interact. We learn when we communicate our thoughts and ideas.

Are there naysayers out there? Yes, run from them. Find the ones who are looking forward to hearing from you and wish to encourage you. You will always learn more and communicate more with positive and encouraging people.

I remember this one day I was sitting in the car, waiting for my partner while he ran into the store. The following just flowed out onto the paper.


It is in the trying and being that makes us human. It is the journey, not the end that tells us who we are and what we are made of. Perfection is not a means, it leaves no room for variation, creativity, and understanding of the process. It is through trial and error that we gain knowledge and wisdom. We remember and learn more through our mistakes than by what we do perfectly.

For if everything were perfect, done perfectly, there would be no journey, no life, no adventure,…only an end.

Do you wish to STOP! living the un-live-able GOAL! and get rid of the STRESS that it gives? Let’s talk.

Just Tell The Truth

Jane was sitting in a taxi, wondering if she had overdressed for the evening.  She was on her way to receiving an award for “Employee of the Year”.

As she stared out of the window reminiscing about all the good things that had happened to her, she saw her dad rooting through the garbage dumpster.  It was getting dark with blustery winds and steam coming out of manholes as she saw people hurrying along the sidewalks.

She was stuck in traffic just two blocks away from the conference where she was heading.  Dad was just about 20 feet away.  He had rags around his shoulders to keep out the chill and was picking through all the trash and loading them onto his truck.

She could see the childish glee in his eyes when he found something interesting that he liked in the dumpster.

His eyes were sunk deep in the sockets with the skin parched and ruddy from all those winters and summers exposed to the elements.  To people walking by, he probably looked like a ragged old man working hard to make ends meet.

AS he looked up, Jane was overcome with panic that he would call out her name and that someone who was on the way to the same awards night would spot them together and Dad would introduce himself and her secret would be out.

She slid herself down in the seat and asked the driver to take the next lane away from where her dad was standing.

Back home after receiving the award and soaking in all the flashlights that went with it, she returned home, still rattled from seeing her dad and the unexpectedness of coming across him, the sight of him happily moving the trash from the dumpster.  She laid down and played some music to settle her emotions.  She looked around the room and the luxury she had around herself.  She had turned her apartment into a sort of place where a person would love to live.

The fact was that she never enjoyed the apartment without worrying about her dad who was still leading his life around filth and garbage and living in a tiny one-room apartment where he spent almost all his life taking care of Mom and her two siblings.

While she fretted about them, she was embarrassed by them too, and ashamed of herself for leading a luxurious life while her old parents were still working hard to earn their living and make ends meet. 

What could I do? She lamented as Jane had tried countless times, but her dad would insist that they didn’t need anything, and all her mom would ask of her would be something as silly as perfume.  They told Jane that they were living the way they wanted to.

After ducking down in the taxi so Dad wouldn’t see her, she hated herself, her luxurious apartment, clothes.  She had to do something.  She sent word through a friend that she wanted to meet mom and dad for lunch at their favorite restaurant.

Dad was sitting at the table carefully studying the menu as Jane arrived.  Dad and mom had made an effort to fix themselves up.  They wore the best they could from the wardrobe.  Dad was looking tired after driving straight home and picking up mom after a hard day’s work.

“It’s our baby girl” they called out in unison.  Jane kissed them both as she saw her mom emptying packets of sauce and some breadsticks into her purse.  “a little snack for later” she explained.

Jane ordered some of her dad and mom’s favorites.  “I’m worried about you”, said Jane.  Tell me what I can do to help.  I have earned enough in these years.  “Tell me what it is you both need”.  Well, mom thought for a while and said she could do with a visit to the beauty clinic, and dad, well he wanted a new pipe as the old one had really worn out quite a bit.

“Oh, come on, be serious,” said Jane.  “I am talking about something that could help change your life for the better.  Make you both comfortable.

“We are fine,” said Jane’s dad.  It looks like you are the one who needs help.

“Come on dad, I saw you picking trash from the dumpster a few days ago.”  “Why didn’t you say hello?” asked her dad.

“Well, I was too ashamed, dad. I hid.”

“You, see?  That’s exactly what I’m saying.  You are way too easily embarrassed.  Your mom and I are who we are.  Accept it.”

“And what am I supposed to tell people about my parents?”

“Just tell the truth,”. “That’s simple enough.”

There is no way that you can run away from your truth.  Embrace it!

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Fear My ‘Fear’, Not My ‘Anger’ !

It helps me to call GOD, names,
As he is the only one who is not insulted by all my blame

I am angry at all the rich
As I fear the lack of which

I am angry at you getting too close
As I fear losing the independence, I chosemelanie-wasser-j8a-TEakg78-unsplash

I am angry you were not there when I needed the most
As I fear abandonment from the only one I loved the most

I am angry you make me wait
As I fear being ignored

I am angry you disagree with me
As I fear being judged

I am angry and yell at you till you are convinced
As I fear being accused of something that is untrue

I am angry you interrupted me
As I fear you will never understand me

I am angry and I have GOD to blame
As I fear peeping inside for the burning flame

Don’t be mad at me for my ‘anger’ within
It’s my fears that trigger my angry feelings within

They are the fears I carried within
Since the time my life begin

I was told weak are those who fear
I clung on to that belief O dear!

I don’t want to take this anger to the grave
I lived a life so depraved

I want to share all my fears
Without being judged and brought to tears

I want you to fear my fear
And not my anger my dear!

The Practice Of ‘Deliberate Ignorance’

Have you ever felt stuck, unable to make the next move?

Have you ever been spoilt for choice, unable to decide?

Have you ever struggled with your decision making?

Then the practice of ‘deliberate ignorance’ can be a great enabler in decision making.

There is so much trash around us, the consequence of the electronic media and the internet.  There is so much of distraction which you simply don’t need.  Most of the news today is irrelevant to you or the context you are living in.  For every need of yours you have infinite options.  Information overload is taking a toll on your good sense and completely overwhelming people.  Options are plenty which is not necessarily a great thing. Increasing options come with the challenge of making choices which we seldom make.  Each time you are near to taking a decision, you are presented with more options which you would like to evaluate.  This takes you through a never ending and vicious cycle of reaching a decision point and then postponing it to evaluate more options.  Leads to a stage where you freeze with ‘decision making fatigue’.

We assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. However, choice overload makes you question the decisions you make before you even make them. 

When you have an overload of information and choices available in front of you, it puts you in a state of stress.  You always have a feeling if you are going to miss out on something more relevant and important without evaluating a little more.  This happens typically just when you are about to decide.

It’s not just the options available through the media or internet, there are people who would come up to you and provide you with so many alternative ways that you tend to suspect your own competency to make the decision.  Even after you have made the decision, you will be made to feel that you haven’t evaluated enough before taking the plunge.  You keep worrying about what could have been and what you missed out.

That’s probably the reason why people often don’t decide and keep postponing decisions.

Imagine if there was no internet and no global news via television. Would you have responded differently to the pandemic?  Or would it ever be called one in the first place?

Sometimes I feel that ‘ignorance is truly blissful’.  It allows you to be in the moment and respond to situations as they happen; to take more decisions than not taking at all and learn more from personal experiences.  You wouldn’t be distracted by the noises and agendas around you.

This makes me recall what my Coach once told me.  Learn to ignore all the noise around you, stop reading news about what people are saying about you and your team, ignore the hype around the opposing team and you will notice that you will get a level of confidence which will help you respond well in crunch situations. 

I learnt it the hard way as I paid the price of not ignoring the unnecessary before a crucial game.  I was the go to guy in the team for taking penalties and in the semifinals when I got the chance I messed up badly.  I was distracted by all that I read about the opposite goal keeper.  That he was the best in the business and had a enviable record of saving penalties, especially in crunch games. Instead of focusing on my strengths, my mind was clouded by all this information added to the fact that only the previous day I heard from someone that our team had never made a podium finish.  My mind was cluttered and I couldn’t make the decision about ‘which corner to shoot’.  All this in a matter of minutes.  Should I go left; right; top corner, straight between the pads, all these thoughts were too overwhelming.  In the end, I ended up shooting so wide that the opposing goalie had nothing much to do.

From then on, whenever I am focused on getting something, I try as much as possible to cut out all distraction.  I have learnt ‘ignorance’ can be a great strategy to achieve your goals. 

Not just in sports but ignorance can be so useful to practice in day-to-day life as well.  Think of so many distracting information you receive which may have stopped you in the past, from deciding and succeeding – in relationships, your finances, health, career, personal growth, and even your spiritual pursuits.

I am not suggesting that you ignore, must ignore all options.  Having options is a good thing to make choices, however, too much of it can cloud your thinking and stop you from making that crucial decision.  Distractions can come in many forms, not just from media and the internet but also from people around.  You must learn to even avoid taking counsel from people who do not add any value.  Such people offer opinions without having any experience whatsoever about the subject.  The current pandemic is a classic example of such a distraction.  Anyone and everyone is commenting, offering advice, giving opinions, suggesting therapy, medication and what not, without having the requisite knowledge of the subject.  So much so, that even governments are getting influenced and distracted in their decision making with such ambient noise.  They seem to be reacting rather than responding to the situation.  It’s getting worse.

You must deliberately ignore what you already know is a distraction and protect yourself from the noise.  You can save yourselves a lot of trouble and stress as a result.

This global pandemic is a great opportunity to learn and practice deliberate ignorance.  It will surely help you overcome the decision making paralysis.

Stop all news, social media and any such activity which will be a distraction for about 15 days and see the difference it makes.

You will start to believe that “ignorance is truly blissful”.


As soon as people receive feedback, they frequently begin to wrestle with the question, “Why should I change?” Do you identify with any of the following negative attitudes that are common after receiving feedback?

  • I’ve changed a lot from who I was, when I was young. Give me a break
  • I do not think we must change for every single request for change, in this way we will be spending our time changing and would get little done in the process
  • If others can’t accept me the way I am then its their problem not mine
  • No one is perfect, everyone has weaknesses. It’s important how we leverage our strengths.  The fact of the matter is that I get things done and that’s what matter.


Feedback and Change

Feedback usually gives us some good news and some bad news. Most people are willing to acknowledge their weaknesses, but they do not always try to improve them. As a facilitator the comment I’ve heard most often when reviewing feedback reports with participants is, “I knew I had a problem in this area.”

Every once in a while feedback comes as a big surprise, but most of the time, people always were aware of their weaknesses, often for years.

When I ask, “If you already knew about this problem, why didn’t you do something about it?” They inevitably answer, ” It didn’t seem that important, ” or, “I didn’t want to.”

The problem is not that people can’t change. The problem is that they do not want to change badly enough.

The fact of the matter is that change is often possible only when you combine high “desire for change” with “ease of change” as I illustrate in the figure below.

When motivation or desire to change is high and the task difficulty is high, making a change is going to be difficult. But, even when task difficulty is low, if commitment is low, making a change is still difficult. However, when commitment is low and the difficulty of a task is high, making a change is virtually impossible.

Before you begin making some changes, you should first understand a few things about yourself. First, change does not happen automatically. Simply acknowledging the existence of a problem; though it’s a good place to start, does not change the problem.

The key to making lasting changes is to increase your level of motivation and commitment to make the change. Without an overwhelming desire to change,  you will only be able to resolve some issues which are easy though with some difficulty.

So what should I do?

Begin working on the changes from your ‘current state’

When I was reviewing the feedback report with one of my participants, I recollect that it indicated that others perceived he lacked the ability to think and act in a strategic manner.  He responded by saying that his job didn’t require him to think strategically and the role demanded that he just follows his bosses orders to the tee.  I will demonstrate strategic thinking when I have a job or role which demands that of me.  In fact I can do better than my boss if given such a role he said.

It seemed like he was thinking that the feedback which was given to him was more to do with the and in relation to the position that he had than his ability.

I asked him, if he thinks that the management would ever consider a person who did not have the ability to positions which demanded thinking and acting strategically.  He said “No”.  I just told him that he is never going to get the job unless he starts demonstrating the ability to think and act strategically.

Most people end up saying that “I will change when my situation changes” The problem with this line of thinking is that – you will be running for the shovel to dig a well when you are thirsty.  That’s not ideal isn’t it?

Change has to be in the ‘here and now’.

Involve stakeholders – stop blaming

In most cultures, we have a learnt and have a tendency to assign blame. It starts at a very early age. For example, when we were asked by our parents who made a mess in the living room, we were quick to point the finger at another brother or sister.

Similarly, I am always amazed that, when managers encounter complex and difficult problems, they frequently solve them by replacing somebody. The problem is still there, but now they have someone to blame.

I am not only amazed by our tendency to blame others, but also by our willingness to accept all the blame ourselves. “I blew it; I’m responsible, ” a manager once told me as we discussed a problem. It’s as if life would be simpler for everyone if someone else could just take all the responsibility.

Involving key stakeholders and building codependence actually helps in the change process.  Most of the time you find that it is not always because of the ability or desire to change that comes in the way but it’s a result of others in the social system who keep generating the circumstances which stops people from doing so.

An alcoholic might want to change but the people who live with him have to ensure that they do not create circumstances which will make him start drinking again as an escape mechanism.  The whole environment needs to be supportive else change becomes very difficult to achieve.

Learning to change begins with the right attitude toward change. Some of the following attitudes may help you as you navigate the change process

  • Change is the only constant and it makes life interesting
  • Change is a skill that you can master
  • There will come a time when change is useful and I might as well prepare for it
  • The key skill successful people possess is that they look to improve continually and keep seeking feedback from the environment to do that.

Seeking feedback is the most powerful tool to identify and reduce your blind spots.  It will help you to develop your weak areas and leverage your strengths.

Why not start right now?

Interpersonal Feedback – the critical dialogue in everyone’s life

Of offers; counter-offers and the game of deception. Have you been a victim?

This post is an outcome of an incident from the recent past.

A friend of mine had put in his papers after years of work in a company which quite didn’t value his contributions.  For him it reached a tipping point after delivering results year on year, his promotion was always kept in abeyance and the increments were as he wished to call it “pittance”.  Call it office politics if you may.

He got a great offer from another company which was willing to pay twice as much for his expertise with a position which matched his expectations.

The MD of current employer then had a 1:1 with him and understood his position, claiming that he was ignorant of the injustice meted out to him and blah! blah! and made a counter-offer which not just matched the offer from the competitor but also gave him a position.  Assuring him that the mistakes of the past will be corrected and stating how much the organization values his contribution.

The poor guy fell for this game of great ‘deception’ and rejected the offer he got from the competitor.  I call this deception as after about 6 months he was fired from his job for non-performance and also alleging that he has passed on sensitive information about the organization to the competitor during his interactions with them.

Now he is jobless for the last 6 months and feeling depressed over this alleged deceit.  He had found out that they had only bought time to groom another understudy before letting this guy go.

I realized that this is not an isolated incident.  I’ve been myself through these games of deceit attempted on me in the past.  Fortunately, I didn’t succumb.  I stuck to my guns when such counter-offers came.  My point was if they felt that I was worth the offer being made after I put in my papers, why didn’t they do that before?  Once you have put in your papers, mentally you have switched off and have already carried a lot of baggage which is difficult to offload easily.  Plus the additional factor that many organizational leaders do not like the fact that you are going on your terms.  There point is “how dare he go on his terms?  It’s me who decides the terms of employment and severance as well”  It’s an ‘ego’ trip.

Such employers also trouble you post leaving your job by delaying paperwork, amounts due etc., in one pretext or the other.  There are plenty around in this world.

Have you been a victim of such ‘deceit’?  How would you respond to a counter-offer?

What would you do if you are suckered into staying?

Cycle of Learning

Learning or competence building is a cyclical process.  All of us go through it and almost all of the time.

Where does it begin?

Cycle of Learning

Let me explain using the example of ‘cycling’ as a competence.  When we are born or in early childhood, we wouldn’t be aware that there is something like a ‘cycling competency’.  This stage is called the unconscious incompetence, where there exists a competency and I am not aware of it either.  Once we grow enough to see the world around us and learn more about it, we find people cycling around.  That’s when we realize or become ‘conscious’ about the competency of cycling, however in this stage we are not having the competence yet to cycle ourselves.  This stage is our conscious incompetence stage.  Once we are through this stage and decide to acquire the necessary skill sets or know how we go about learning the process of cycling and start to do it ourselves.  You might have felt or observed, we are however very conscious of the way we are holding the handlebars , the time to up-shift or downshift a gear and very tight in the way we ride our bicycle.  This stage is what I call the conscious competence stage.  Here we have the necessary competence but are tentative.

When  we have done it over and over again for many days and months, it becomes part of our sub-conscious or natural.  We just pick up our bicycle and start pedaling away as if it is an extension of our body.  In this stage you are so conditioned to the act that you are not really conscious about the how, and might be thinking of several other things in your mind.  You still take the right turn, avoid obstacles without really concentrating much.  This stage is our unconscious competence.

Therefore its important to understand that when ever we take up a new skill or competence it goes through the whole cycle of learning up until it reaches the last stage.  Mind you it is cyclical as well.  Maybe after you see a circus artist perform some stunts on his bicycle, you will again reach a stage of conscious competence and then if you so decide go through the entire process once again.

I always therefore tell my students to not expect miracles at the end of a course.  It takes time and the cycle of learning to reach a state of unconscious competence.

So keep pedaling !