3/17/2023

Fighting Perfectionism and Telling Your Inner Critic to Shut Up

~4 min read
A pre-teen comforting another little girl who is sad and ashamed
Do what you can, with the time and resources you have.

It’s a mantra I’ve repeated many times over my entrepreneurial career. It’s helped me put things in perspective and get through whatever turmoil was happening – whether it was dealing with a difficult client, settling an employee challenge or working through a cash flow crunch.

But even after 25 years as an entrepreneur, the perfectionist monster rears its head. I forget the saying that got me through tough times, and I beat myself up for failing to do whatever it is.

My Inner Critic Had a Field Day

The latest incident happened on Feb. 28 during our Official Opening party. A snowstorm had threatened to shut us down that day, but I decided to push through, without the help of my partner, who had to be with a loved one who was experiencing health challenges. Luckily I had a couple of dear friends who stepped in. I heaved a sigh of relief when everything was over!

Unfortunately, in all the flurry (pun intended) to get things ready, I hadn’t noticed the large charcuterie board that our caterer had artfully prepared was not there. That delicious food sat nicely refrigerated IN MY CAR. 😫

Since I can never eat at my own events, I didn’t notice it was missing from the buffet table. As a former hotelier, I strive to put on top-notch events that showcase our local talent and products. This one left my attendees wondering, “where’s the meat?” !

Everyone had been too polite to say anything! I. Was. Mortified.

It took me a full day to get over the shame. Finally, I wrote an email and offered everyone a rebate. To my relief, I received words of encouragement, and appreciation for the honesty. A few people said they hadn’t noticed (really?), and one thought it was funny!

Why Do I Even Tell You This?

In part, to give you hope if you too are fighting perfectionism and telling your Inner Critic to shut up.

Because as women, we too often fight an uphill battle with “what will people say.” Criticism comes too easily in this social media world. Just a week after International Women’s Day, I came across a report from Women of Influence and Tall Poppy Syndrome – the tendency to blame women more than men in leadership positions. No wonder we’re afraid to make mistakes! I wrote about Tall Poppy Syndrome a while back, even musing whether it is worse in small towns and rural areas. Either way, we seem to be raised to think we have to be perfect. This creates an ideal environment for our Inner Critics to become nasty, constant companions.

As women – leaders, caregivers, business owners, and like it, or not, role models – how can we better support one another in this journey to feel at ease in our business and who we are as women? I believe the answer in part may rest with openly admitting when we have fallen short. Life is not perfect! Let’s focus on what lessons the “mistakes” teach us and move on.

The other part of the solution is to continue asking for help and surrounding ourselves with people who have our back. That’s one of our aims here at Business Sisters: creating a safe space for conversations about entrepreneurship, failure and success, sharing about professional and personal/family matters. Because we know you often can’t talk about women in business without addressing their family situation and who they care for.

Keep an eye open for a new activity in April where we’ll focus on all of this plus offer support and tools women business owners need to overcome and thrive!

In the meantime, please consider joining us for our first 5 à 7 of spring at Académie Shanthaly on Tuesday, March 28.

Do what you can, with the time and resources you have.

It’s a mantra I’ve repeated many times over my entrepreneurial career. It’s helped me put things in perspective and get through whatever turmoil was happening – whether it was dealing with a difficult client, settling an employee challenge or working through a cash flow crunch.

But even after 25 years as an entrepreneur, the perfectionist monster rears its head. I forget the saying that got me through tough times, and I beat myself up for failing to do whatever it is.

My Inner Critic Had a Field Day

The latest incident happened on Feb. 28 during our Official Opening party. A snowstorm had threatened to shut us down that day, but I decided to push through, without the help of my partner, who had to be with a loved one who was experiencing health challenges. Luckily I had a couple of dear friends who stepped in. I heaved a sigh of relief when everything was over!

Unfortunately, in all the flurry (pun intended) to get things ready, I hadn’t noticed the large charcuterie board that our caterer had artfully prepared was not there. That delicious food sat nicely refrigerated IN MY CAR. 😫

Since I can never eat at my own events, I didn’t notice it was missing from the buffet table. As a former hotelier, I strive to put on top-notch events that showcase our local talent and products. This one left my attendees wondering, “where’s the meat?” !

Everyone had been too polite to say anything! I. Was. Mortified.

It took me a full day to get over the shame. Finally, I wrote an email and offered everyone a rebate. To my relief, I received words of encouragement, and appreciation for the honesty. A few people said they hadn’t noticed (really?), and one thought it was funny!

Why Do I Even Tell You This?

In part, to give you hope if you too are fighting perfectionism and telling your Inner Critic to shut up.

Because as women, we too often fight an uphill battle with “what will people say.” Criticism comes too easily in this social media world. Just a week after International Women’s Day, I came across a report from Women of Influence and Tall Poppy Syndrome – the tendency to blame women more than men in leadership positions. No wonder we’re afraid to make mistakes! I wrote about Tall Poppy Syndrome a while back, even musing whether it is worse in small towns and rural areas. Either way, we seem to be raised to think we have to be perfect. This creates an ideal environment for our Inner Critics to become nasty, constant companions.

As women – leaders, caregivers, business owners, and like it, or not, role models – how can we better support one another in this journey to feel at ease in our business and who we are as women? I believe the answer in part may rest with openly admitting when we have fallen short. Life is not perfect! Let’s focus on what lessons the “mistakes” teach us and move on.

The other part of the solution is to continue asking for help and surrounding ourselves with people who have our back. That’s one of our aims here at Business Sisters: creating a safe space for conversations about entrepreneurship, failure and success, sharing about professional and personal/family matters. Because we know you often can’t talk about women in business without addressing their family situation and who they care for.

Keep an eye open for a new activity in April where we’ll focus on all of this plus offer support and tools women business owners need to overcome and thrive!

In the meantime, please consider joining us for our first 5 à 7 of spring at Académie Shanthaly on Tuesday, March 28.

Doreen Ashton Wagner
Doreen Ashton Wagner
Founder | Fondatrice
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