Friday, October 15, 2010

Today's Lesson: Greatness

I am a perfectionist.

Sometimes, this quality has positive effects in my life. It drives me to excel. It makes me constantly want to improve myself and the things in life I can influence. It keeps me humble.

But there is a dark side to my perfectionism. It is also an affliction that leads me to doubt myself and to dwell on my weaknesses (or areas for improvement, as they are euphemistically called). It can paralyze me from achieving a goal or trying something new for fear that I will either fail or that the result simply won't be...perfect enough.

Perhaps the most unfortunate symptom of my perfectionism is that, until recently, I have never allowed myself to truly believe that I am great at anything -- because my standard for great has been unachievable (greatness = perfection).

It has only been within the past year that I have begun to recognize, and believe, that there are some things I am pretty darn good at. And although internally I'm finally allowing myself to do so, I still struggle with displaying my confidence in my strengths to the outside world. Maybe it's because I don't want to come across as cocky or arrogant. (It is.) Maybe it's because part of me still believes that in order to publicly declare that I am great at something, I must be flawless at it. (It is.) Or maybe it's because I'm afraid that acknowledging I'm great at something might lead to complacency. (It is.)

Unfortunately, I don't necessarily believe our culture encourages PDAs (Public Declarations of Awesomeness -- yes, I made that up). I feel that the American culture implicitly teaches us to subdue expressions of our greatness, to turn down the volume of our confident voices. At the very least, it certainly doesn't seem to teach us to turn the volume up. Humility is a good thing, but only up to the point at which it inhibits our ability (and willingness) to shine.

I think I'm finally starting to unlearn this teaching.

I don't have to be perfect at something to declare with confidence that I'm good, or even great, at it. And neither should you. So for the first time, I will publicly (or at least to the few people who read this) declare that, in no particular order,


1. Public speaking
2. Writing
3. Graphic design
4. Thinking critically and creatively
5. Creating and facilitating leadership development programs
6. Being a positive role model
7. Being visionary
8. Reading people
9. Inspiring others
10. Promoting change

Now it's your turn.

Whatever fears or reservations or objections or apprehensions you have about telling the world what you're GREAT at -- and you are great at something -- stop letting those things hold you back.

Take a few minutes to think of 10 things you are great at. I'm being serious here. Take five minutes right now and make a list. Write it down. (Seriously, do it right now.)

Then do any or all of the following:

1. Post your list as your status on Facebook.

2. If you blog, post a blog with your list.

3. Type your list, print it out, and post it in a place where you will see it every day.

4. Post your list below as a comment to this blog.

5. Encourage your friends and family to do the same.

6. Never believe, or let anyone make you believe, that you are anything less than amazing.