My name is Louise and I’m a recovering perfectionist…
Perfection - a trait that has helped and hindered me in equal measures, ensuring that I both attained my dreams and successes whilst at the same time crippling me with insecurities and physical exhaustion. The outside world was awarding me for my business success, inviting me to share my experiences. The financial rewards were piling up, however life on the other side of this success was anything but perfect.
Constantly fighting physical exhaustion whilst trying but failing to switch off my wired brain, I was carrying a secret. Invited to stand on yet another stage to share my story of success none of them could have guessed that I was living in fear of being found out. Everyone seemed to believe that I had it sorted, that I knew what I was doing. Didn’t they realise that I was making it up as I went along, waiting to be caught out at any moment?
I never felt like the success that they were proclaiming me to be, I always felt that whatever I had achieved was not enough. When I looked around and compared myself to others I was always found wanting, it was a long time before I learned that I had been comparing my insides with everyone else’s outside and we can all put on a wonderful outside.
My health deteriorated in proportion to the publicity, ironically the time when my photograph was displayed on billboards promoting entrepreneurship throughout Wales was the time when I felt at my worst.
I’ve learned a lot about resilience in order to regain my health and get back from that low point in my life :-
1. Host a pity party
We’re all entitled to our feelings, those moments when we want to wallow in our misfortunes are allowed. In my experience ignoring feelings doesn’t mean that they go away. It’s healthy to be aware of how we feel and acknowledge where we’re at, accept where you’re at and know that, as with all emotions, ‘This too shall pass’…..
2. Reach out and ask for help
Get someone to ask you questions although make sure that they are impartial. Get rid of any potentially harmful hidden agendas and pay for a professional. I thought that my coach was going to fix me but thankfully she asked me the questions so that I could find my own answers and fix myself.
3. Take a moment
Remember the astronaut that stood on the moon and was too busy getting his jobs done, meeting his deadline, to take a moment and feel what it was like to stand on the moon. What’s your moon landing, what are you missing in your life right now because you’re too busy with your own deadline? Stop and take a moment, appreciate where you’re at, how far you’ve come and what it really feels like to be in this moment.
4. Where do you want to burn your energy?
We all know that food contains calories of energy which we take in to maintain our own energy. How do you want to use yours today? Are you joyfully following your passion or finding that a part of you is dying at the thought of what you’ve chosen to do today?
5. Visualise your successes
Copy Wayne Rooney! His match preparation includes asking the kit man the day before what he’ll be wearing so that he can visualise himself in detail scoring those goals. What goals do you need to score today? Have you visualised yourself already achieving them and the subsequent celebration.
6. Take a breath
Stress is a part of everyday life - our adrenal glands control our stress response and are constantly on chronic low burn. Designed to react acutely and save ourselves at the threat of death, they have become the smoke detectors of the modern world, reacting to each social media demand, unable to recognise whether it’s the toast or indeed the house that is burning down. Get oxygen into your bodies as effectively as possible with your ‘magic nose’. When our shoulders are tense with stress it’s impossible to take a deep breath so imagine that you have a giant ‘magic’ nose in the small of your back and breathe in from there. As you imagine taking a breath through your magic nose you’ll be reassuring your adrenals that you’ve got this.
7. Who’s your number one priority?
List the most important people in your life. What number are you? We all know who’s oxygen mask has to be put on first in the event of an aeroplane emergency. If you look after yourself first then you can help the person sitting next to you. Who in your life is in that seat, your family? your business? Who is relying on you to look after yourself so that you can be there for them?
8. Just say no
For all those moments when you’ve compromised yourself, found yourself agreeing to unwanted suggestions, gone along with the consensus for an easy life, know that you’ve been haemorrhaging your personal resilience. Find your boundaries, stick to them and say no to the rest - if they don’t like it (and they probably won’t) they can talk to the hand!
9. Receive your compliments with grace
Appreciate that compliments in life are the greatest gifts. Acknowledge and receive them with the pleasure they deserve, take a breath, a moment and let them land - you deserve them.
10. Let go of the outcome
Thinking that you can please all the people all of the time is the road to ruin. Prepare, show up, do your thing and walk away knowing that you’ve done everything within your control. Let go of everything that is beyond your control and give no apologies if it wasn’t perfect!
About the Author
Louise is a resilience expert and Innovation Specialist on the innovate2succeed programme, working with businesses to help them identify their existing capabilities and the potential for innovation. Starting out as a technical manager in the food industry, Louise set up, grew and successfully sold her own business which employed over 50 staff.