Know that you are a perfectionist — If a perfectionist understands that they fall under this category, they will be in a better position to tackle the problem. It’s no different than any other habit we try to change.
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 Jason Gelios.
Jason Gelios is a Top Producing REALTOR, Author of the book Think Like a REALTOR, Creator of The AskJasonGelios Real Estate Show, and an Expert Media Contributor to the likes of Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, CNN, Realtor.com and more.
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?
Thank you for having me! You could say I had a normal childhood in a middle class neighborhood. My parents worked hard and made sure that my sister and I had the things we needed. I was taught the value of hard work and being responsible for myself. I remember wanting a Nintendo Game Boy when it first came out. I had seen it in gaming magazines and at the toy store where they had a demo console you could play. I asked my parents profusely to buy me this portable gaming system. My dream of getting this item came to a halt when my parents reminded me that it was not Christmas, or my birthday. If I wanted to get this gaming console sooner, I would have to earn the money. This life lesson taught me the power of going after something you really want. Shortly after this moment, I eventually earned enough money to purchase the item. Earning the money and purchasing this item myself opened up the possibility of having a goal and working towards it. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties and working dead-end jobs that I applied this lesson to my professional life and started making strides towards the life I truly wanted to live.
I always had a strong work ethic, but felt that I was not really motivated by the jobs I held. I was working for the weekend so to speak. You could say I was a ship without a sail. It wasn’t until I met my wife that I really got inspired to become more and improve my situation. I watched as she worked diligently toward earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. Seeing her get rewarded for her hard work and ambition really inspired me to change my life and to pursue a career that I could really be proud of.
As I was looking at different career paths, a family member told me that I should be in sales because of my personality. This comment opened up the possibility of that path. After looking at different types of sales positions and industries, I decided to go into the mortgage field. This was the start of me eventually ending up on the REALTOR side and growing a successful brand and business from the ground up.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is by Zig Ziglar which goes,“You Can Have Everything In Life You Want, If You Will Just Help Enough Other People Get What They Want.” This is a great quote that reminds me daily to put the needs of others first and to be a resource both professionally and personally. When I share it with others, they see how powerful this quote is, because oftentimes people forget what is important. I believe in this quote as an affirmation that I need to put others first on a daily basis. This also ties into not worrying too much about everything being perfect. People want value and are willing to accept that something may not be perfect. Other people may not even know it’s not perfect and accept it. The idea of ‘perfect’ is different in the eye of the creator vs. the recipient.
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?
One of the most impactful movies I have seen is The Pursuit Of Happyness. This is the story of how Chris Gardner overcame obstacles in his life to not only better his own life, but to provide a better life for his son. Even through all the trials and tribulations, he stayed the course and pursued his dream. In the movie, Chris Gardner, played by Will Smith, gets hit with many challenges as he is pursuing a new path. He pushes through each challenge to move forward and get himself closer to reaching the goal he set for himself. It’s a very inspiring story of triumph and overcoming self doubt and ridicule to become the person he set out to be. He didn’t wait until things were perfect, he just went for it, because he desired the outcome.
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?
- An insane work ethic — Success breeds from an insane work ethic. I’m not talking about working 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. Maximizing how you spend the hours and making sure you are eliminating things that decrease productivity should be top priority. Many people think about what they want out of life, but then it stops there. Implementing a strong work ethic towards your goals can really change your life and get you to where you want to be.
- Knowing your goals and writing them down — They say a written goal with a deadline increases the chances of the goal being achieved. Knowing what you want out of life and being specific with your goal setting will set you apart from other ‘dreamers’. Goal setting has changed my life and played a huge part of who I am today. I stay on track and get things done in a timely manner. I work my plan without over thinking or waiting for things to be ‘perfect’. If I didn’t implement this strategy, I wouldn’t complete anything.
- Value First; without expectations — Being a value provider without expecting anything back is very important. When I share my real estate expertise with media outlets and on my weekly AskJasonGelios show, I provide valuable tips and information freely without expecting anything in return. Providing value first is a character trait I see many successful people portray. If you wait too long for things to be perfect, you won’t get the value out that people deserve. People like doing business with people they like. Giving without expecting something back is a proven business model. If you are working on a project or have a great idea that would benefit others, focus on getting it completed and out to them sooner than later. Don’t worry about things being perfect. Remember, it’s about the value you provide someone else.
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 who takes the Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim approach to making a decision. They prepare for a long time and look at all the details of what they are working on without ever pulling the trigger and executing. When you look around, you will see an abundance of ideas, yet very few executors. A perfectionist will sit on an idea or project trying to perfect it, only to not complete it. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting something to be perfect, it can be a waste of time perfecting something, because that’s like throwing a dart at a moving target. It will never be perfect.
I was guilty of this in my early days as a graphic design student. I would look at creating marketing pieces and hover around the idea and possible designs for what seemed like eternity. It was mind numbing to me at the time. I had to teach myself to make sound decisions in a timely manner, while still getting my project to the point that I feel my best was put forth. Even to this day, I have to make sure perfectionism doesn’t stall me in moving forward towards accomplishing my projects.
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?
Being a perfectionist isn’t entirely a bad thing if implemented the right way. The late Steve Jobs is a great example of somebody who balanced perfectionism with making quick decisions through execution. Some would say Steve was an insane perfectionist, yet he managed to make decisions on the fly. You can still be a perfectionist and pull the trigger on ideas or projects without haste. While not everyone on his team enjoyed his strict guidelines at Apple, he exemplified what it means to be a disciplined perfectionist.
What are the negative aspects of being a perfectionist? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean?
One of the negatives of being a perfectionist is spending too much time on something and not pulling the trigger. This leads to a lack of productivity and lost opportunity. Imagine two people working on a common goal. One person spends a great deal of time making sure that the project is perfect to their standards. The other is closer to completing the project and possibly starting another project. This person feels they did their best without sacrificing quality. The undisciplined perfectionist will get less done compared to the other person completing projects faster. Lost time and lost opportunity.
Years ago I was pursuing a career in graphic design and taking classes at a community college. I loved being able to put elements together to create marketing pieces I could be proud of. One of the downfalls I had with this choice of career was the inability to get print pieces done in a timely manner. I would make edits and review the project(s) over and over again. I wanted things to be absolutely perfect. Even obsessing about whether or not everything lined up right, which most people wouldn’t identify in the completed piece. This was a negative for me and eventually I left the industry to pursue a different path.
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?
Perfectionists get stuck on something because they over think how their project or idea will be received. I mentioned undisciplined perfectionists earlier. An undisciplined perfectionist will circle back to an idea multiple times without restraint, doubting their ability to satisfy themselves and others. This could lead to hours, days or weeks being lost on an idea or project.
When I had completed my real estate book, ‘Think Like a REALTOR’, people were amazed that I took the time to complete this endeavor. Many people shared with me the notion that they would love to write a book, but didn’t see themselves tackling such a project. When I was in the process of writing my book, I tried not to worry too much about being ‘perfect’. I kept the end goal in sight and gave myself a deadline to complete it. Perfect or not, the book was going to be released. I had a strong feeling that people were more interested in the content and less on it being perfectly put together; turned out I was right.
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.
- It will never be perfect — When you realize that you can’t please everyone all the time, it becomes easier to get things done. It’s important for perfectionists to understand and embrace this concept and apply the discipline to how they tackle projects. Being content with your work is important, because no matter how much time you spend, it will never be perfect.
— When I am sourced for my real estate expertise all over the world, I really focus on how my words are written and how I convey my thoughts. I have come to learn that you have to do your best to provide great information that is interesting to read in a quick turnaround. If I take too much time making sure everything is perfect, I would miss deadlines and opportunities.
- Create a deadline; and stick to it — Creating deadlines for my projects and sticking to them helps me move forward. I am always working on multiple projects that have deadlines attached to them. This discipline forces me to stay the course towards completing these projects. Deadlines create a sense of urgency that forces you to start and complete things fast.
— I am working on two books with deadlines attached to them. When I approach my big projects and attach deadlines to them, it keeps me focused on the end goal and what I want to accomplish. I love having multiple things going on and not having time to make sure everything is perfect, because perfection doesn’t truly exist.
- Know that you are a perfectionist — If a perfectionist understands that they fall under this category, they will be in a better position to tackle the problem. It’s no different than any other habit we try to change. It takes practice developing new habits that stick to our routine. Perfectionists could start off by accomplishing smaller tasks, or projects, to get a feel of how it feels to not be disabled by perfectionism.
— When I was working on my graphic design projects, I would literally be up all night until I was exhausted. I went round and round making sure that everything was perfect. Then I had an epiphany. There is no such thing as perfection. I would never be 100% happy with what I was doing, so I might as well do my best and move on.
- Seek out feedback from others — Asking others for feedback can be an effective way to get over perfectionism. I have people around me who will provide me honest opinions and valuable feedback. I don’t put too much emphasis on how I feel about my projects because other people will be taking in the content I share. This is not to say you shouldn’t be happy with your work. It simply means you should focus on completing your project and being proud of what you created. Then move on! When the majority of your feedback is positive, you have won.
- Relieve the pressure on yourself — Perfectionists apply too much pressure on themselves. They have a grand vision of how they want things to be and allow stress and pressure to stall the project. Having unrealistic goals set for yourself can cause low self-esteem and wreak havoc in your work. When I approach ideas that interest me, I think about whether or not it makes sense to tackle the project or if it’s best to let it go. As I mentioned earlier, I have two major book projects that are in the works. I would have never started these if I felt I couldn’t complete them in my set deadlines. Being realistic and knowing what you are capable of is important to relieve the pressure.
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?
There is a saying out there that says a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. I would encourage people to do what they can to lift others up. To provide the value however they can whether it’s through their work or their personal endeavors. Lift others up and provide encouragement. I am in a highly competitive industry, yet I support my colleagues any way I can.
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!
I would love a sit down or a video call with Chris Gardner. I loved his story of perseverance and getting past the struggle he had in his life. I would share with him how he inspired me to demand more of myself and to work hard to achieve my goals no matter what happens in life.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!