Fun fact: HMMWV (pronounced hum-vee) stands for High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicle.
Fun fact #2: After being in military organizations for 22 years, I still have to google the spelling, or ask my hubby.
Fun fact #3: No, I have no idea why the heck we don’t just call it a “truck.”
Alas, some questions aren’t meant to be answered…. But anyhow, I digress. There’s actually a reason why I have HMMWVs on my mind.
That’s because I just spent the last 3+ weeks on my annual Army Reserve training, where I got to cruise around in one a little bit.
And by little bit, I mean approximately 12 minutes – after doing a thorough maintenance check on it, of course. Yeah baby – checking tires, liquids and light functioning!
Here’s a picture 😉
I’m not going to lie – those 12 minutes were super fun.
Outside of those 12 minutes, I spent the exercise briefing, phone calling, teaching, and leading a group of 98 people. Oh, and occasionally getting cared at loudly by a one-star general for a situation that was outside my scope of control (We’ll save that story for another day – it’s pretty funny in hindsight….).
So ok, great – I spent 3+ weeks in the place where they filmed M*A*S*H, got to ride around in an old and fun “truck,” and led a wonderful team. What’s that got to do with you?
I’m SO glad you asked!
See, a lot of things went well during the training….
And a LOT of things didn’t.
AND, since I was the leader of a big piece of the pie, you can guess how that panned out. 😉
Now obviously it was a training exercise, so no one was actually shooting. No one’s lives were in danger. It was an event specifically designed to help people get better at what they do.
But as you know, being aware of these things doesn’t necessarily make the rough patches easier when you’re a type-A overachiever, right?
Perfectionism & Doing Some Things Badly
Luckily, I learned something that helped and that I thought you would find useful too.
It was a great piece of advice from one of the other generals who was there, BG Michael Roache (he was my favorite, but shh – don’t tell). He passed along something one of his former bosses told him.
The gist of what he said: “You eventually get to the point in your work where you’re in charge of so many things, that you just need to get used to doing many things badly. You have to pick your focus, and get comfortable with not being great at everything.”
Getting comfortable with imperfection: Sometimes we need to get comfortable with doing some things badly so we can do the most important ones well.
Good reminder, eh? It applies to all of us, really.
I mean, we all have a billion important things going on in our lives. And trying to do everything Marry Poppins-style (“practically perfect in every way”) is exhausting.
And darned near impossible.
Not to mention, not much fun for us OR the other people in our lives.
Getting Comfortable with Doing Things Badly: Bye-Bye Perfectionism
That’s really what it’s all about – perfectionism. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, just thinking about doing things badly makes me cringe.
It goes against everything we’ve ever learned, right?
But there comes a point in every high-achiever’s life where you’re handling more things than you can feasibly do all at once.
Well, do them successfully, that is.
So here are some of my favorite ways to get comfortable doing some things badly… so that I can do the most important things really really well.
1) Prioritize What’s Important.
Yep, priorities. You have to know which things are most important. This will help you know what things you need to focus on (the activities that will get you actual traction vs. the nice-to-haves). Once you know this, it’s easier to create – and stick to – boundaries that protect your time, your mental wellbeing, and your relationships with the people you love.
2) Question Your Story.
You know that voice in your head that tells you that you’re a failure if you don’t meet every deadline, have all your receipts and projects tabbed alphabetically in binders, and make the perfect Pinterest desserts for dinner every night? Yeah, the “you’re not doing enough” voice. It’s reciting from the script of what Vishen Lakhani calls “brules.” And, sorry – not sorry – to say, that voice isn’t always telling you the truth. It’s up to you to re-write that story, and determine what’s good enough for you. Tapping helps me with this.
3) Get Help. AKA – delegate.
You’re super amazing. AND, you don’t have to be super amazing all on your own. Once you’ve decided what things aren’t your priorities, look for people who can take on some of the other tasks so you reduce your overall work load. (P.S. This will also decrease overwhelm and increase overall productivity. Win win!)
The Process of Using Imperfection to Your Advantage
Alrighty, so let’s get real here for a second.
These tips work. AND, they’re not an instant, snap your fingers, say “geenie-weenie” three times and voila – no more perfectionist tendencies.
(Haha – “geenie-weenie” – what does that even mean??)
Creating new habits takes awareness, effort and time. Prioritizing, setting healthy boundaries, and asking for help are things I still work at on a daily basis. Shoot – even when creating this article for you today.
So, easy? Not always.
Worth it? Absolutely!
It saves you time, keeps stress down, and helps you be more present and focused when you’re doing the work you enjoy and the people you love.
So today I invite you to think about what it might take for you to get comfortable doing some things badly.
And with that, I’m off to snuggle with my daughter, and find a plum-sized toad that’s hopping around my living room (seriously, don’t ask).
Until next time!
Jewell “Getting Comfortable with Doing Things Badly” Siebert