Acknowledge it — First and foremost you have to acknowledge that you are doing it in the first place Acknowledging it as a behavior can be easier to adjust and make changes. As you allow yourself to make this change think about all the times when the perfectionist in you was at the highest peak. For me, it’s usually when I need to complete my routine of sharing posts and media. It used to take forever which defeated the purpose of daily posts. I remind myself to not overthink things, it’s doesn’t matter what others think, and post it. Over time I will get quicker, and the quality will increase. Be consistent over time rather than wasting the time.
Many successful people are perfectionists. At the same time, they have the ability to say “Done is Better Than Perfect” and just complete and wrap up a project. What is the best way to overcome the stalling and procrastination that perfectionism causes? How does one overcome the fear of potential critique or the fear of not being successful? In this interview series, called How To Get Past Your Perfectionism And ‘Just Do It’, we are interviewing successful leaders who can share stories and lessons from their experience about “how to overcome the hesitation caused by perfectionism.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chet Hirani.
Who has lived corporate life for 15 years in Software Tech, climbing up the ladder and working with executives, giving him the insight into people’s mind, and making a better analysis of the struggles. He now enables the solutions to develop people and businesses in Leadership, Growth, and Performance. Getting over Perfectionism is precisely what he has done and now simply just gets on with it.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Sure, I’m born and raised in London, the United Kingdom, I would say I am a person that is full of energy which is something I get told all the time, and some wonder where I get the energy from. Extremely focused on getting the best out of people and myself, which is probably why I love competitive sports, I’m also a Martial Arts instructor. I studied a Computer Science Bachelor’s Degree followed by a Masters in Software Engineering which led me to 15+ years of working in the Software Tech industry.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite Life Lesson Quote and something I stand by is “Version One Is Better Than Version None” This resonates from my life in the corporate world to now. I was always involved in quality assurance and would never allow anything to be delivered if it wasn’t fit for purpose. This led to many confrontations with senior members as they always wanted to ensure the software was released on time and on budget. That was my main goal, but if something wasn’t right and it impacted the end-user I wouldn’t let this go. I was in meetings fighting my case asking only 2 questions. 1. Does this impact the end-user? 2. Does it impact company revenue? If the answer was no then my team and I would go back to ensure issues found are resolved by an agreed time frame. However, if the answer was yes to both then I would need to work on how to get that version out with no impact on my questions. My role was to get things right, almost perfect but then to just do it as well. Over time I came to realize that if there was an impact on the end-user and revenue, how can I release software with no impact, I had to overcome the mindset of being perfect and thinking about fit for purpose, which also led to just doing it. As long as the end-user could operate what was delivered and the company was making money the next version to be released would be better and no one would be none the wiser. Now I’m no longer in the corporate world, I use this quote more than anything. Starting my own business, like most you want to get things right the first time. This isn’t the case. If you felt it was right the first time, then you would leave this and never improve on it and rely on it working forever. The first website I created was a single page which I made sure did what I needed it to do. It didn’t matter how basic it looked to me because I knew I had to improve on this over time, but I also have other priorities to work on and could not focus on one thing as it would have impacted my business. I set aside time to improve on this and over time it got better. Still to this day I know there are improvements to be made.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
It’s a song from the Greatest Showman called ‘This is Me.’ This song resonates when the time I was at my lowest point. This song wasn’t out then but when I felt I was coming on of this state the song could not have been released at a better time. It allowed me to reflect on what went on previously to what I am capable of now and that I will not let anything stand in my way to get my dream. I have gone through, depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, divorce, being diagnosed with cancer to then be told it was Tuberculosis. All the while, I was teaching my Martial Arts class, knowing I have a responsibility, to others, and impacting their lives for the better. I remarried, then to be told I will never be able to have my children of my own. My wife fell ill and I had to administer CPR. See I’m not perfect, but I keep ongoing. There is a verse in the song that goes:
“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown ’em out
This is brave, this is bruised
This is who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me”
Even now I play this song to get me fired up to remind me of where I am today and that every day is a new day and what I wasn’t able to achieve on one day is okay because there’s still tomorrow and I will be better.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Listener — I have been told that I am a great listener, which I have also been told is a difficult skill to have. Some may think they are a good listener, but what sets a great listener apart, is when they take what they hear and resonate a specific point in their life, and can create a story that will reveal you have been there, you then call out your discovery, talking about your reflection, the struggle and the outcome. I do this with everyone I work with. Firstly because I only work with people I can relate to on a personal level and secondly it allows me to support and guide them to where they want to go, just like me.
- No-nonsense — I have a no-nonsense approach to life and my work. I want results in people, and I don’t like giving false hope to anyone. I believe you should say it how it is and be transparent. I get this from my mother. I recall when I was a lot younger, I used to always sit next to her in the kitchen, while she cooked, and I did my homework. This was a daily routine that turned into a habit. I always knew as soon as she went into the kitchen I would follow and always sit at the same place and always in plain sight. While she is cooking, she would test me on certain subjects. Most of the time it was math. One time I was learning my multiplications. Remember there was no internet, and I don’t even think mobile phones were out. So anyway, we would go through the timetables, and every time I would get one wrong, I would need to start from the beginning. Every time there was a hesitation I would need to start from the top. My mother made it a point that I must know all my timetables up to 12 by a certain time. This was her goal for me, so she would do what it would take to get be that result. Another time was when she would talk to me about random topics, and also teach me how to cook. I think this is where listening also comes to play. If she had caught me wandering off because I was not interested or I was distracted by something else, she would always catch me out and ask me the question again. I did not hear what she said but she would ask me to remember what was said previously. I still think about this now and her approach to everything was always to make sure I performed at my best. If I was out of line she would call me out. It didn’t matter that I was her son, even at school, there was an altercation between me and some guy, my mother was the first one to take us both to the headmaster and I suffered the punishment deserved. So I’m pretty sure my non-sense approach has been an instrumental force in where I am now, but rather than focusing on my success I want to create other people’s success too. So it’s always a win for me.
- Hunger — I love eating good food, appreciate the taste the effort that has gone into making the dish, and understanding what the chef wants from his/her food. See this as an outcome. Creating good food is an art, but it’s not just about making the food, it all starts from what is being made and how it is going to be made to how it is going to be constructed, prepared, and delivered. Once it is delivered, how has the end-user taken to the first impression, to the smell, to the taste? This all can be see-through body language. The chef is hungry for success in all the dishes they make. They get satisfaction in making the dish because it’s their passion, they get that burning desire when it is complete and about to be delivered for consumption. They want to perfect every dish, through progression. They always want to improve. See I have linked hunger with food and the dynamics behind this. This is exactly why I am always hungry for getting the best out of people which then brings the best out of me. What a chef does is exactly what I do but always wanting to take it one step further. Every person I speak to you, I want them to tell me what they want and then I will see if I can create the right recipe for them. This can change as time goes on because you always want to improve and be better. This is why I always ask for feedback. At the end of every session, I ask how the session went and if there was anything that could have been improved. I also send out feedback sheets to make sure I am always on the top of my game. I feed off the feedback and make it a point to always progress in what I am set out to do. I won’t say I’m perfect I will say I am good, and I will say I can be better.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Let’s begin with a definition of terms so that each of us and our readers are on the same page. What exactly is a perfectionist? Can you explain?
A perfectionist is someone with extremely high standards and will never settle for anything less. Using sports and a target for example. Have 10 attempts to ensure a target is hit, in the same spot, with the same power, same trajectory, measuring this to be 100% correct 10 times over. There is never any room for mistakes, as soon as you see an error you are the first to jump on this and correct it at any cost, take a piece of software about to be released and at the last minute you spot an error, that has no impact in going live but you just need to get it right. Rather than waiting for the next release which will save time and money, you want it done then. A perfectionist can also be someone that wants things done in a particular order. At times others won’t understand this because you are so specific about how things are done. This could mean something being out of place, or simply doesn’t meet your standard this would be completely unacceptable. A perfectionist can also be someone who has a hard time finding the right people to work with, or some simply find it hard to work with you altogether.
The premise of this interview series is making the assumption that being a perfectionist is not a positive thing. But presumably, seeking perfection can’t be entirely bad. What are the positive aspects of being a perfectionist? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean?
There are several positives aspects of being a perfectionist, one, in particular, is having high standards. Having such high standards can make it easier to meet the needs of clients or anyone that is in a higher position. Being a perfectionist you would already have high standards, which can make it easier to meet expectations because perfectionists are always thriving to be the best and achieving their goals. Perfectionists have tremendous organizational skills. They would have set everything in order and would have removed as many obstacles as possible right from the start. A personal example I can give is of having great attention to detail, and not being satisfied until everything on my list was ticked off and complete. In my corporate role, I ensured attention to detail was installed in me and my team. It was part of our job. We could not let anything out of the door without it being fit for purpose and all requirements had been met. For every project that came to my team, we had to ensure that the requirement was met before it came to us, if not then we would send it back. The requirement was to ensure anything that came to my team met a quality gate, then it was my and my team’s duty to ensure it meets the next quality gate which was to the client. The attention to detail that was required needed to be planned out, into chunks to ensure all functionality worked, once that was approved, the next step was to put that functionality altogether and ensure it works with no issues. Once we had accomplished this we would then integrate this so it plugged into all other systems. This was the ultimate test because if this did not work to our standard it would not pass and there would be further delays. The point here was to find as many issues as early as possible to never delay the deadline as this could have a financial impact on the business and customer. See the standard and attention to detail was set higher than the normal standard, which worked to great advantage, although the pressure was there, the success and satisfaction that came once delivered was always worth it for everyone.
What are the negative aspects of being a perfectionist? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean?
Whenever I read negative aspects of a perfectionist, only one thing comes to mind that encompasses a lot of other factors, and that is Fear of Failure. I used to be full of fear of not getting the job done, similar to the example of having high standards and attention to detail. Having all these positive aspects is one thing, but the fear of failing was always there. I simply could not fail in what I was delivering, I always had to find a way of making sure all delivery was fit for purpose, and if a risk is identified how can it be mitigated as quickly as possible. This can drive most people insane, and it created unwanted pressure on me and my team. There was a time it got emotional when you’re so close to delivering, something stops you last minute. The team starts to get disjointed because they have been overworked and you lose sight of the objective. Being so detailed oriented we lost focus and forgot about the actual outcome of the project. Getting to this point can have an impact mentally and physically.
From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common reasons that cause a perfectionist to “get stuck” and not move forward? Can you explain?
From my perspective, the feeling of pressure to meet high or unrealistic expectations, whether this is in your work environment or even at home. The pressures of getting things right at work or pleasing family can be a constant battle with yourself because you just want to keep on exceeding, and are not getting any further. This can also lead to feeling depressed, ashamed, and frustrated with yourself. Having the fear of failure and making mistakes can lead to procrastination, which also can get you stuck because you will focus on that one task to get it right and this will have a consequence on all other tasks at hand. Sometimes you just need to delegate or share the load, but you don’t trust others to do the tasks as well, and you don’t want to risk being viewed as imperfect or a failure. The need for constant reassurance can always play a part in getting stuck and not being able to move forward.
Here is the central question of our discussion. What are the five things a perfectionist needs to know to get past their perfectionism and “just do it?” Please share a story or example for each.
- Acknowledge it — First and foremost you have to acknowledge that you are doing it in the first place Acknowledging it as a behaviour can be easier to adjust and make changes. As you allow yourself to make this change think about all the times when the perfectionist in you was at the highest peak. For me, it’s usually when I need to complete my routine of sharing posts and media. It used to take forever which defeated the purpose of daily posts. I remind myself to not overthink things, it’s doesn’t matter what others think, and post it. Over time I will get quicker, and the quality will increase. Be consistent over time rather than wasting the time.
- Adjust your standards — Sounds easier said than done, since a perfectionist’s standard is supposed to be super high and the thought of going above and beyond to outperform others is always on the agenda. I have adopted my standard which is “Version One Is Better Than Version None” This permits me to accept that whatever I do I will always do my best at that point, but never limit myself as I know I progress and do better. I also adjust standards depending on the project or task at hand. If I am on a client call, rather than sharing my screen with slides I will share my iPad and draw it out, I have noticed that clients retain this information far better as they listen to what I am saying as well as providing illustrations and diagrams. It also helps me retain information a lot better.
- Know your worth — So many people beat themselves up for not being good enough. I was once this way. I was always conscious of my physical appearance. This voice was hounding me until I realized by seeking advice, that it’s all wrong. And this goes to everyone else out there. You are worth it and you’re enough. We are all here for a reason, and all have a uniqueness that sets us apart. Having regular reminders on your phone, with clarity statements, and affirmations, really do set you up for understanding your worth, this does take time, and as perfectionists, you tend to see what is wrong before seeing what’s right. Here’s something you can do right now, focus on what’s going right for you over what is wrong.
- Move on — Give yourself the time and reason to move on from what you are doing. Set your time limits. Once the time hits, you move on to something else. This doesn’t mean you can’t go back to the previous task later but concentrate on something new. You’ll find a lot more tasks are getting completed in a shorter amount of time and the quality is not compromised. Alternatively, something I do regularly is time myself, and plan something else that will take me away completely so I don’t fall into the trap of cheating myself. So I down tools, and then go for a walk, make a phone call to someone I haven’t spoken to in some time. The key to this is to stick to it as your life depends on it.
- Test yourself — Be experimental, and do what works for you. There are so many pieces of advice out there, take things from it and practice regularly. You need to turn it into a habit. Work meetings are an example here. Rather than having 30-minute meetings, be concise and precise and turn them into 15-minute meetings. You’ll be surprised how productive these meetings get over time. I used to spend hours editing my podcasts, and then working on the posts for them, followed by the artwork for all different social media. I realized the amount of time being spent on this was insane, and there had to be a better way of doing this. So I created templates. Now I have consistency and I have reduced my time as I am happy with what I have produced, I don’t go back to improve it, because there is no need. The idea of creating templates has also worked on other projects for me. I never have to recreate and only add the content needed. Experiment on how you talk to yourself when completing a task, or to others, be kind. There are so many options when testing yourself, so keep experimenting, practicing, and turn it into a habit you will be proud of.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
- Wake up every day and appreciate one thing and then smile.
- Take a selfie of you smiling.
- Comment your appreciation and hashtag notyourordinarycoach
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
This will be a challenge, but if I get to have lunch with him then I will never complain. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is one person that I would love to meet and listen to all the wisdom he has to share. I have followed him from the day he stepped into the wrestling ring not knowing anything about him. Until I started paying more interest in people and reading up on what they have achieved and what’s happened in their life. See reading about others, helps put things into perspective for me anyway, and there will always be value in what they offer. Even if it is one word, there will be something that resonates with you. When I think about Dwyane Johnson, the following words just seem to come out, Spirit, Humble, Family, Living Life, Full of Joy, and one remarkable human being. Notice how I didn’t say strong because he’s a tough character. But just from having nothing to having a dream which was taken away he never stopped once. Although the feeling might have been there, something told him to never give up, I resonate with this a lot with my own experience. Having a relentless mindset, a no-nonsense approach, and continue to provide yet be humble about everything around you would be great just to share this and send this message out to the rest of the world.
How can our readers follow you online?
Readers can follow me and connect with me on most social media platforms and online here’s the list:
Facebook — @NotYourOrdinaryCoach
Instagram — @chethirani
Twitter — @chethirani
Website — www.NotYourOrdinaryCoach.com
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!