Perfectionism is an endless battle. What is perfect to one person, isn’t always perfect to someone else. The amount of time it takes to achieve perfection already puts you behind. Perfection only lasts for so long until something bigger, better, newer, faster comes into town. Perfection is a good “goal”, but not a requirement.
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 Jennifer Zahourek.
Jennifer Zahourek is a highly experienced Emergency and Trauma Registered Travel Nurse at numerous Level 1 trauma, Stroke & Stemi Centers across the country. Before Jennifer became a nurse she had a crippling fear of blood, struggled with dyslexia, and was doubted by many that her learning disability would ever get her to the finish line of her degrees. Now, Jennifer is the owner and founder of RekMed that helps the medical community in school and on shifts through her unique educational planners.
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?
Growing up, I had a debilitating fear of blood. Any shot, cut, or drop of blood would make me faint within a few minutes. You could say I was the LAST person you would ever imagine becoming a trauma nurse. Additionally, my grades before college were pretty poor. My test anxiety increased over the years because I felt like I never understood why my grades didn’t reflect my actual knowledge of the information. I always felt like I had to learn in a unique way compared to my classmates, until one day in college, my professor had discovered my dyslexia with adhd after working one on one. That forever changed the concept of how I would change the way I learned to fit my own needs. It finally made sense why I would struggle and now it was all about how to accommodate it.
Although I went to West Virginia University for pre-nursing, my fear of blood was so overwhelming during orientation alone that I almost passed out in the middle of class. So I changed my major to Psychology, and began my first job as a Mental Health Tech in the Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Everyday I went to work was a mental struggle. Deep down inside I knew that I wanted to be a nurse. So back to school with more determination I went at Metro State University of Denver. Throughout nursing school I was told by my peers and teachers that my test anxiety was so bad I would probably never pass the nursing board. A whole lot of grit and determination later, I have the privilege of saying that I have worked in over 10 different Emergency Departments across the nation as a travel nurse specializing in level one trauma, Stemi’s, and stroke centers. My parents to this day still do not believe that I went from fainting on the bathroom floor over a few drops of blood from a loose tooth, to now treating people after horrific injuries. But this was truly just the beginning of where my life and career started. All these challenges from a young age and adulthood has prepared me to overcome one of the largest challenges I have ever faced, which is working on becoming the best leader I can be for a company that has a large goal to give back to the medical community that gives so much.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Feed a man a fish and you fed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you fed him for life” — Lao Tzu.
After spending years in the Emergency Department before I was a nurse, I noticed a theme. People were coming into the ER that had issues that could have been handled if only they were educated on what to do. Since it was Children’s Hospital, it made a lot of sense why parents would panic and bring their kid in for something like a runny nose for one day that appeared harmless, but the reality was that parents love their kids so much they can be overly cautious at times. Our job was to help empower them my education them on things like fevers are OK to get as children, and how to take care of it, and when the ER is appropriate for something like a fever. Since 2008 when I started in the ER on this non-nurse level, I already knew that I wanted to educate people, but not one patient at a time. I wanted to educate people by the hundreds, thousands, and beyond. Little did I know that this was setting me up for what is now my daily life of being able to educate the medical community, which also helps educate their patients. It’s not about how hard the information is…. It’s truly about how it is taught.
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?
I would have to say that Tom Bilyeu’s Impact Theory podcast/Youtube channel is the most significant motivator in my business-building days and daily life. I truly wanted to create a company that was mine- but I didn’t know where to start. I identified so long as an Emergency Department Nurse, and I didn’t even know (like Tom in his years before Quest) that there was a difference between Marketing & Advertising. Not only is Tom a large force in the entrepreneur world in which he took a company from 0 to a billion dollars in 7 years with 100% equity- but he interviews people that are also making the largest impacts in the world that have studied a craft or a skill and are presenting it out to the world. His episodes are full of a wealth of knowledge that is not just helpful for the not-born entrepreneur… but for someone that wants to dream big, and actually pursue their dreams. He also has a candid approach and will make someone call themselves out for their own crap. I value that when we live in a world full of distractions and decisions and noise, it’s like a kick in the pants to get clear on your own values and goals whenever you listen to him.
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?
- The ability to see failures as part of a journey to the solution
- The ability to understand that I work for my team and my customer, not the other way around.
- The ability to listen to my gut, research everything, not take the traditional business approach & jump even if it’s scary.
1. The ability to look at what people call ‘mistakes’ or ‘failures’ as part of the journey to the solution and not actually a mistake or failure. When a patient comes into the ER dying, our job is to provide numerous interventions to help save their life. To think that every intervention is going to be a perfect solution would be crazy. Much like, if an intervention didn’t work on that same patient, we would never label it as a ‘mistake’ or ‘failure’, it just didn’t work for them. It is simply part of the process of stabilizing the person. When an intervention doesn’t work we simply shrug it off and think “what’s next?” The past 14 years in the Emergency Department has made me experience this daily and has been monumental to starting my business. Often people get so concerned about failure that they get tripped up when something doesn’t work. If I did something in my business that didn’t work out, I never once thought about it as a failure, it just taught me that the solution is something else, or that we needed to pivot in a new direction. Additionally, in business, things are always changing. What works yesterday, might not work 3 months from now, or 2 years from now. The world is moving fast, and so does change in business. It is truly the ability to pivot and adapt.
2. The ability to understand that I work for my team and my customer, and not the other way around. Starting from ground zero gives you a significant advantage. You learn every little aspect of your business, how it functions, how everything affects each other, and any clog in the wheel can slow down your momentum. I had the mindset in the beginning that I wanted to hold on to running this business myself as long as I could. And then it became apparent that this mindset was fully holding back the growth of RekMed. It was finally time to hire, train, and have expectations on these independent job roles after doing them for so long myself. It’s hard to hire if you don’t know what exactly your expectations and goals are. Most importantly, I didn’t always have all the answers, and being an entrepreneur with no employees is not just lonely, but difficult because you don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of, ask for advice, or opinions to a decision you’d like to make that is educated on your business. I can remember being so worried about who to hire because I wanted my employees to love my business just as much as I do. If they don’t like their job, or position, or what the business stands for, it would most likely reflect in their daily work. It was then that I realized that the team I hired doesn’t work FOR me, but with me. I wanted them to have all the freedom to create, freedom of responsibility, and freedom of work/life balance as long as they can commit to X amount of hours, and get X amount of work done. I have to say that every employee I’ve had to date has woken up with tremendous self-motivation and work ethic. They have been the reason RekMed has grown to new heights. Their ability to be creative in their roles, and bring new ideas to the table constantly is tremendous, and I couldn’t be more proud. On the same note, I wake up every day and I read what the customers’ reviews and comments are saying about our products. On all of our Ad’s I still receive all the notifications in one of my emails. I make sure I go through a bunch of them daily so I feel like I have a real finger on the pulse of what the business is providing to our customers. So I’ve really realized early that I totally work FOR my team, and FOR my customers. They are the reason RekMed is thriving.
3. The ability to listen to my gut, research everything, not take the traditional business approach & jump even if it’s scary. The day I put 15,000 dollars of my own money down to my factory to create my first 500 books was the scariest jump I’ve ever taken. I had NO idea what I was doing when it came time to publish a planner. I also did not take into account how many more things go into play, such as boxing, shipping, labels, taping, etc. Thankfully, my factory rep has turned into one of my close friends and I am so grateful for how much she has helped me over the years, even from day 1. I know that not everyone gets so lucky, but I also was tremendously respectful for every minute she assisted me in the process of learning. Although many people love to express their ideas and opinions of what I “should” do, I also research EVERYTHING. We live in a time that google and smartphones are at our fingertips no matter what part of the planet we are on. The answers are there, and if you dig enough you are sure to get a good grip on a decision you need to make if you do your homework. I think along with that is because I did not go to any kind of formal business school, I had no idea what play in the business box or the world was like. I wasn’t afraid to acquire my own opinion and gut instincts, and stay loyal to them. Listen, research, get creative and frickin’ Jump. No matter how much you doubt yourself, you have to wake up one day and jump. Otherwise, you are sitting on the same couch, scrolling through the same feed, and doing the same thing until you throw a wrench in it.
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 to me is kind of like an angel on your right shoulder, and the devil on the left. One side of perfectionism can hinder the ability to be creative, never paint outside the lines, and never find the wild side of things. And the other side is being attentive to detail making sure the job is done correctly and pleasing to yourself and others.
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?
Since most of my life has been an ER nurse, I can relate this to a common medical stereotype that nurses in the ICU are perfectionists, while the ER is the wild child that was just let out for recess. Both jobs have the common goal to save a life, but one is highly attentive to detail, and the other just wants the person to live however it happens without the details. Since patients come in the door with sometimes no details at all as to why they are crashing, the ER kinda is like that 8-minute bull ride of crazy with medical equipment being tossed around, tubes and lines wherever they land, and then the patient is stabilized and transferred up to the ICU where the nurses there are organized and structured in every way. The positive aspect of the ICU’s said perfectionism is so important because there are so many variables that can change the condition of a patient or even affect not just their mortality rate, but the long-term effects or damage that can occur if not properly monitored or treated appropriately. Even failing to monitor every mL of fluid a patient receives can be detrimental to their kidney or cardiac function at that moment.
What are the negative aspects of being a perfectionist? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean?
On the other side of being a business owner, deadlines are unbelievably important to make your business run smoothly. Structure is essential, but tolerating good work is better than missing deadlines by trying to achieve ‘perfect’. Since we write educational content for medical professionals, it is extremely important to pay attention to detail about the information we are writing. Since we lay things out in such a visual way, we could spend so much time trying to achieve ‘perfect’ on our artwork and visual concepts, but the reality is that if we allow or spend so much time trying to achieve perfect we would completely miss our deadlines, and that would affect sales, business, customers expectations, and our inventory. Although perfection is something we wish for, it is important to understand that having the information digestible, and educational in a great way is better than chasing perfectionism.
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?
Perfectionism is only measurable on an individual level. What might be perfect to one person, might not be perfect to someone else. If perfectionism is individually measured, then how do we expect to find it? It is impossible to please everyone, and is an endless battle to chase. Something can always be bigger, faster, better, cheaper, competitive, etc. While sometime is refusing to accept anything but perfect, there is most likely someone that is going to blow past them with something short of perfect, but still getting the job done.
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.
- Perfectionism is an endless battle.
- What is perfect to one person, isn’t always perfect to someone else.
- The amount of time it takes to achieve perfection already puts you behind.
- Perfection only lasts for so long until something bigger, better, newer, faster comes into town.
- Perfection is a good “goal”, but not a requirement.
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?
Funny you asked. I am actually in the process of working on that within the Nursing community as we speak. Now more than ever, nurses are unbelievably burnt out, exhausted, and ready to leave the bedside. Who is going to be left if we don’t care for our own nursing community? RekMed and Your Culture Design are actually working together to create a Nurse Culture movement that is going to shake up the way we in the field see nursing. I think there is a really big disconnect between what people think nursing is, and what nursing actually is as a profession. It’s time we bridge that gap, but we help shift the mindset of our incredible practicing nurses and also prepare the future of nursing for what they are getting into. The profession in my eyes is the best profession in the world because of the opportunities and reward it has given me internally. But I can also see how it is easy to lose sight of why nursing calls to us. Esp in today’s climate. It’s a profession that puts our patients’ needs first, as we forget about how much we went through to be in those shoes and have that level of responsibility. We go into the profession with the best intentions, and we come out mentally and physically beat down by the system, our administrators (although I believe they have great intentions), our co-workers, and yes, our patients at times. But we need better preparation, louder voices, more influence, and resiliency on things to assist our profession so we don’t have to be so beaten up every shift. It’s time for the movement of Nursing Culture!
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!
Kevin O’Leary. He is a Diva on SharkTank, that has actually taught me a lot before and while I was starting my business. If Kevin O’Leary tells you that you are doing something right in business, that is like getting a blue checkmark on IG. Verified that you actually know what the heck you’re doing in business. I also think his humor is underrated and I enjoy that he isn’t afraid to call anyone out at any time. He also is dyslexic which was extremely pivotal in his childhood, and was in mine. I like that I share that with him. I wanted to go on SharkTank to meet him, but now my life motto is, “Work like you don’t need SharkTank”. So perhaps, it might be harder to meet him.
How can our readers follow you online?
I am available on IG @magentanursejenn // tiktok — @jennrekmed // and our business IG @studentnurseplanner — for business inquiries you can write in at [email protected]
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!