If there were any Oscar awards for control freaking, I would have surely gotten one! Looking back on my past, I came to realize that I always wanted to have full control over everyone and everything: how people acted or felt, how my future was going to look like, and so on.
During my former leadership position with a multinational company, the most difficult things for me to handle were decision-making and delegation—not only with co-workers who were new in their roles and lacked experience but also with people who were very skilled and competent in their jobs.
Why did I struggle with delegation? Because I knew I was responsible for my team’s results and I wasn’t mentally strong enough to bear any sort of failure on my shoulders. Making mistakes would have scared me to death; that’s why I always needed a long time to brainstorm all possible scenarios that could go wrong when making important decisions.
In reality, I wanted things to be spotless and perfect. And here’s what I didn’t know at the time and what I know to be true today:
Perfection is a sign of fear.
You see, in a society that generally evaluates human worth through how well we do things in life, some people even feel a sense of pride when they describe themselves as “perfectionists” or “workaholics.”
To me, perfection is a sign of fear. When I know I do everything perfectly, I am untouchable. There is no room for others to correct me.
As a child, there were times when I was afraid of punishment after getting bad grades in school. Years later, as an adult, I developed an extreme need for perfection, especially at work. All my assignments had to be executed perfectly so none of my managers would have a reason to criticize my performance. At the time, that fear of authority was still present in my life.
“If you look for perfection, you’ll never feel content.” – Lev Tolstoi
People who struggle with perfectionism also tend to get overwhelmed because they avoid asking for help. They would rather look invincible and strong than vulnerable and “weak.”
Vulnerability is a sign of courage.
Being vulnerable is not a weakness; it’s a beautiful human attribute, and it takes lots of courage to unveil what most of us have been taught for years how to hide. Showing up in our vulnerability in front of others is authentic and brave.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.“ – Brené Brown
Mistakes are much-needed opportunities for growth.
I once read an article about successful people who were intentionally planning for failure. I found that fascinating and strange. Planning to fail? Who likes to fail? No one enjoys messing up, isn’t it?
Today I know that each time I am afraid to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new, that’s the fear of failure making decisions for me. Each time I find myself stuck and afraid to take risks because I might fail, I ask myself: What’s the worst thing that can happen? Could I cope if it did?
Instead of punishing myself for my mistakes, I learned to shift perspective and appreciate myself for my willingness to learn and grow.
“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” – Elbert Hubbard
The need to always control situations or other people is a major source of stress. It is tiring, frustrating, energy consuming—and pointless, since we can never control what other people do. Letting go of control is true freedom and a form of self-care.
Sara Fabian is a Women’s Empowerment & Career Coach and inspirational speaker, on a mission to help professional women to discover their unique strengths, gifts and talents, boost their confidence, find their calling and live a meaningful life of purpose. For weekly inspiration, subscribe to her free newsletter at www.sarafabiancoaching.com or follow her on Facebook.