Transcript of Letting Go of Perfection in Order to Achieve Your Goals
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John Jantsch: Would you consider yourself a protectionist? I certainly would not consider myself a traditional protectionist, but I wonder if there’s times when viewing my view of the world through other people’s lens has cost me, has held me back, has stopped me from doing what I was meant to do
In this episode of The Duct Tape Marketing podcast we visit with Petra Kolber, she’s the author of The Perfection Detox: Tame Your Inner Critic, Live Bravely, and Unleash Your Joy. I think you better check it out.
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Hello and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Petra Kolber. She’s international renown fitness expert and wellness leader. Also, the author of a book we’re gonna talk about today called The Perfection Detox: Tame Your Inner Critic, Live Bravely, and Unleash Your Joy. So Petra, thanks for joining us.
Petra Kolber: Oh my pleasure. Thanks for having me John.
John Jantsch: And I also forgot to mention that you are, you’re gonna shoot me, Scottish.
Petra Kolber: Oh, my god. You are so off. I am British. My dad was Scottish though. I have to be honest, my dad was a Scott.
John Jantsch: There’s a little Scot in your accent still, what’s left of it.
Petra Kolber: If you say so. Okay, we’ll just leave it at that, because my mother’s turning in her grave right now going, Scottish?
John Jantsch: I could have called you Australian.
Petra Kolber: That too. I’ll answer to anything John. If I’m just talking to you, whatever works. I’m fine with that.
John Jantsch: All right, so let me ask you this first. Is this book autobiographical?
Petra Kolber: Well they say you teach what you need to learn, so yes. For me it was autobiographical in a sense, but again for me the pain point of the book, as you know with sales and marketing speak to the pain point. That was definitely my own personal pain point for many years and I thought, if I can help people fast track the seven year process or so that it took me, John, to figure out that you don’t have to be perfect to do great things in this world, then I though it’d be a book worth writing.
John Jantsch: So detoxing is really hot right now. I mean there’s probably half a dozen books in every book store about it, and diets and what not. What does that speak to you think?
Petra Kolber: Well I did the name Detox to be honest, like we had talked about before, my background was fitness for 30 years, so detoxing, nutrition is definitely a piece of that and if you look at the books cover, The Perfection, Perfection is very lightly written, so I do believe many people who pick this up thinking it’s a juicing book, but again, so hey why not build on a cultural trend. That’s not why I called it that. Like with detox from anything is basically cleaning out the crud, and that’s what this book is about. It’s not cleaning out the crud from your body or your nutrition, but really your mental aspect and whether you’re gonna go for a job of your dreams, you’re gonna start that business you’ve been thinking about. It really is about, not what you’re doing, but do you feel worthy enough to even begin the dream and how do you feel about yourself along the process?
John Jantsch: Okay, so let’s start here. What does perfection look like?
Petra Kolber: Ha, great question.
John Jantsch: I’m probably saying that because I have no idea. It does not enter into my life in any sense.
Petra Kolber: You are so lucky John, let me tell you. So I do believe perfection means different things to everybody and I do believe a lot of people have asked me. Why did, this book as you know is definitely got the woman perspective, yet I speak to men and woman across the board, and many men come up to me and go, “Oh my god, you were speaking to me.” Perfection means different things to everybody and what I ask people to consider is, when you think of the word perfect in the three main areas of your life, self care, the relationships of your own personal family relationships, and your work. When you think of the word perfect, does that add joy to your life or does it suck the joy out of you? Because perfect and perfection is only a word until you attach a meaning and an emotion to it. So this book, this idea of perfect, you know detoxing from perfection, some of your listeners might go, “Well, hey perfect works really well for me in my business.”
I strive, and this is not about not working hard. This is not about wanting to be the best that you can be. It’s not about wanting to be the leader in your field and what it is about is how are you feeling about yourself when you’re striving for these high goals? Do you ever reach them, or they are so high where perfections become the basement level. Maybe we can look at different metrics and a different definition of success.
John Jantsch: So I work with a lot of entrepreneurs and one of the things that I see is almost rampant in that community is that they didn’t define what perfection was. They’re striving for somebody else’s view of perfection because they see somebody else being more successful in their view, or whatever, having more customers, a bigger launch, a bigger house, you know, whatever it is, and how much do you think that, that plays into it? Is that we don’t step back and even define perfection. We just try to hit somebody else’s target?
Petra Kolber: Oh, that’s so interesting John. Nobody’s ever really put it to me that way. Yeah, I agree and I think whether it’s comparison … I think we are comparing being by definition. We need to look at other people for inspiration and I think Jon Acuff was the one that said, “Don’t compare your beginning to everybody else’s middle.” And what happens, especially in this world of social media and the online culture where everything is coming across our feed so fast and if you’re like me, for many years I never had this idea that I had anything unique to say, so who was I to be doing a book, a bran, an online course and so whether you see it as perfection, like you had said, or you see it as a lack of confidence or the gap between where you are right now and where you want to be, I think it’s all about the same thing John. We start looking at ourselves, unwittingly comparing ourselves to others, and then out negativity biased, which is a part of our evolution, is automatically gonna hit on the things that we think we are not enough of.
Or in some cases, we think we’re too much of this and what happens is then, we then stop beating ourselves up and judging ourselves, and I should know better, I shouldn’t be comparing my brand, or my launch to someone else’s launch. The challenge is the part of our brain that’s the strongest, it’s not part of your character flaw, it’s a part of our genetic makeup and unless it goes managed and unless we notice these thoughts John, like “Oh, my god, their launch was so perfect. Or, “They wrote the perfect book, ” or, “Their online program is so perfect,” and unwillingly we’re comparing our back story and our struggles to what we see as their overnight success, which in reality is 10,000 hours of hustle and hard work, and failure after failure and iteration 2.0. This is when we get stopped in our tracks and so it’s where we stop doing, we start watching and then we start becoming paralyzed because we start judging what we think we’re doing to everyone else’s highlight reel.
John Jantsch: So physical toxins, are quite often aligned with something you’re familiar with, as a cancer survivor. How is perfection toxins, what’s that costing us?
Petra Kolber: You got some great questions John. You know what, the interesting thing about this, people often say, “Ah, it’s just a thought. I’m just having these thoughts. I’m beating myself up.” And now science is showing that these thoughts have a physical reaction, a chemical reaction to your body. So what we’re seeing now in this world of elevated stress, elevated anxiety, in the entrepreneurial world and in the life’s of our children, elevated depression, although with our kids, they’re saying anxiety is going up, as depression is coming down a little bit. Every time we have these thoughts, our brain, every time we have a thought of self judgment and doubt, or worry it’s not a status quo, it’s gonna trigger irresponsible in your body. It’s either gonna be fight or flight, or tandem befriend and this cortisol, the adrenalin, and placed on top of the adrenaline and cortisol that gets triggered every time we have an email alert, or a text come in our we have an argument with our partner, or work partner.
This is all having a physical impact on our body and our immune system, our health, our joy, our happiness, and so again, people go, “Oh it’s just a thought.” “Uh, yeah, no.” Because your body can now not … This is science, the science of neuroscience. Your body cannot tell the difference between an actual something we should be afraid of and go on physical defense or a thought where we ramp up and have this same toxic, like you said, toxic emotion built into our body and often to put on top of that John, this work is often happening behind a computer and we’re sitting and you and I just spoke about this before. Sitting is the worse place for our body, our health, our happiness, our focus, our agility, our resilience. So you put all these thoughts on a body that’s now static, it’s just compiled and exasperates to a magnificent and an unfortunate level.
John Jantsch: For the record, I’m at my standing desk right now as we record this interview. I want everybody to know. So let’s pick on social media a little bit now. So let’s pick on social media a little bit, shall we. You know my last interview that I … Who knows when people will actually be listening to these. They probably won’t come out back to back, but Dan Schawbel, Back To Human: How Greatly Leaders Create Connection in an Age of Isolation, and one of the main thrusts of his book is that technology, while it does enable us to do some cool things, it’s probably made us more isolated than ever, and I suspect that in the perfection game, social media is a pretty big culprit isn’t it?
Petra Kolber: Yeah, absolutely. I love that idea. I think the currency of the future is gonna be connection and I heard Gary V. speak recently at an even and he held up his phone, and he goes, “Technology doesn’t have and opinion,” and I was like, oh that’s good, ’cause I had become silently very judgy about social media and technology. It doesn’t have an opinion, but it’s how we feel about ourselves and how we decide to use it and what our intention is when we’re going onto social media, or any form of technology. So again, it does magnificent things. You and I are having this conversation across the country because of technology. My thought is with social media in particular, there’s many great aspects of it. It allowed me John, over the course of two years recently, to pivot my branding from fitness to happiness and now to this idea of becoming our best selves versus our perfect selves. Social media will allow me to do that without paying a PR company, yet we often use social media to deflect, distract.
We often go on when we’re bored, when we’re a little bit lonely and that is the worst place, the worst time for us to jump on, because then that negative bias, our inner critic is quick to ramp up and then start again, going into that comparison mode, and even though we know that what someone is posting on social media there, there are a million dollar launch, or that perfect this, or we know that’s probably not the exact truth. Maybe it’s a little bit highlighted a little bit, while our brain knows that and for females especially, we see the pictures going across out feed, with that million Instagram followers. Our heart has a really hard time discerning what’s real to what we’re seeing across our feed. So I just say, there’s nothing wrong in social media, but make sure you’re going on with full attention and with what intention. There’s so much noise out there. Do we want to add to the noise or can we elevate the conversation. Add things that make people think, make them feel good, make them want to share what it is that you’re sharing about your thoughts and your view of the world today.
If we’re there to elevate the conversation and make people feel less alone, than it’s a great thing, but then again I keep coming back to this idea of when you step off your time on social media, do you feel more joyful, or has the joy been sucked out of you, and then maybe it’s time to look at who you’re following, your intentions, and just kind of do a quick little detox on your social media too.
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So I probably wasn’t gonna bring this up, but you opened the door to it. Do feel that men and women approach this idea of perfection differently?
Petra Kolber: Yes, I do. I mean I think … This is why I wrote the book form a female perspective, ’cause while I’ve had many conversations with men, and I think the suffering is there, but I think it’s a little different. I think, and again, tell me, correct me on this John, I would imagine that sometimes it’s easier for men to compartmentalize their areas of their life. So my job is, I’m crushing it, I’m succeeding, my goal is to be perfect, and their like great, but perhaps your relationships are suffering, or maybe your self care is suffering, whereas I think women have a harder time separating their self care to their relationships, to their work life, to their family, so there’s more of a trickle effect. If I’m not feeling great in this area of my life it’s gonna kind of have a little bit of a trickle effect where I think, and I hope I don’t get a lot of blow black on this.
It might be easier for men to compartmentalize just a little. So while perfection’s working in their work life per se, maybe their self care’s suffering, or their family life is suffering and it doesn’t have the ripple down effect quite as much, and feel free to correct me on that.
John Jantsch: No, no, I agree 100%. I think society plays a huge role in that too. I remember when my kids were little and I’d take them to … I might have one of them, well I have four, so I might have had all four of them and I’d be carrying one in the grocery store checking out and you know it never failed. Somebody, “Oh you’re such a great dad.” And I wonder what it would take for somebody to actually say, “You’re such a great mom,” if my wife was doing the exact same thing. I think society really … You know, we have much lower expectations I think on men sometimes.
Petra Kolber: It’s a great point and again, not to do any bashing, but I think this expectation that women also place on themselves and the conversation is absolutely changing, a little bit, but even if the conversation is changing externally it’s really hard on the internal conversations that we have with ourselves to ease up the judgment and the self doubt in that area of our life.
John Jantsch: Okay, so we’ve talked a ton about perfection. Let’s talk about detox. Where do you start?
Petra Kolber: Well like with anything I would love to say with this book we start with the joy, but unfortunately you have to clear out the muck. So the first part is just clearing out what’s not working for you and it’s not everything, especially with perfection. Any kind of detox you want to keep what’s working. So you’re gonna keep the flowers but pull out the weeds. So I’m gonna jump back a little bit about perfection John, because there’s many aspects that you want to keep, you’re a hard worker, you strive for excellence, you triple check your work, you’re a great friend, you’re a great coworker. None of that we want to get rid of, but whatever you’re detoxing from, we need to get rid of the stuff that’s not working for you right now. So first bit is clearing out the muck. Then the universe in your brain does not like a vacuum, so you got to put something good in there and this is where my work and my studies with positive psychology enter in. Again our brains default ids the negative, so if we leave a space, then more negative’s gonna come in.
It might have a different voice, a different accent. It might have a Scottish accent, but it’s gonna come in. So we got to put something positive in there and then we want to really be robust for the future. So it’s kind of clearing out the clutter, the muck, which often has happened from our past. Cementing a really positive presence and then from that there’s actually sustainable steps, like creating new habits. As we know, it’s those many daily habits of small, small steps that create magnificent change over time. So how do we do sustainable actions, sustainably new habits around our thinking especially that allows us to create a flourishing future.
John Jantsch: Yeah, that replacement idea is so big. I just read a post, a friend for a long time in this content world and he wrote a post recently. He talked about how he just one day decided to stop drinking alcohol and it just turned into months into year and then he turned around and realized he’d gained 40 pounds and how to like, okay, now I need to replace that with exercise. I think that is so true of our condition isn’t it?
Petra Kolber: Yeah. I mean the thing is, it’s that familiarity. It’s that we’re gonna come back to a habit, whether it’s negative thinking, negative actions that we do, without even realizing that they are negative. They have negative impact. So again, it’s just … And again with this world of becoming, we’re in this attention economy where we’re our lack of full attention. So often times these habits, I think, the negative ones creep in even faster these days, because we’re kind of partially focus, we’re partially engaged without even realizing it. We’re think we’re multitasking, we know there’s no such thing, and I think that has an effect on our inner dialog also, because we’re not fully aware of even the inner habits that we’re maybe replacing, what we thought was a negative just with another negative. So again it’s bringing attention and full intention to all aspects of your life, which is exhausting. So it’s, you do the best you can with what you have.
John Jantsch: Well and you certainly make this point fully in the book fully, but I do think a lot of people when they kind of wake up one day and say, “I have to change something externally.” They really don’t have much success, or at least they don’t stick with it until they change something internally first do they.
Petra Kolber: Yeah, I mean at the end of the day you can want whatever you want. As an entrepreneur, a small business, you can have all the right desires, but unless we’re really looking at the why, what is our driver? Are we being driven by creativity, possibility, seeing failure as just proof that we’re trying, and there’s data in the disasters. If we’re not secure in our foundation John, where we’re building it from a place of, “We are enough,” not meaning there’s not a ton of work that we still need to do to get better at certain aspects of our business, but what often happens is, we can sustain these habits, because the foundation their built on is floored. It’s from an idea of I’m not enough. I’m trying to prove something. I’m trying to prove my worth, versus how can I add worth to the people I’m trying to serve. So again, it’s just with kindness and a curiosity, just continually asking ourselves, why I’m making these choices? Why am I wanting to do this business? What is it in the end that I want to leave? Our legacy. It sounds like a little be grandiose to say, but it really is at the end of the day, don’t we all want to leave the world a little better than when we found it?
That means that we have to continuously and consistently explore our whys and our feelings, not about just the work that we do, but as we grow and evolve and also one thing to make clear is, the closer you get to doing work that really matters, the more you’re gonna struggle with this, because fear is gonna show up, because it just … To me it’s a sign that you’re doing work that you really care about, but when you can flip that wear and stop worrying about, like Seth Godin says, “To be remarkable, means you’re gonna be remarked upon, not just the good but the negative.” When we can flip the fear about what are people gonna say about me if they don’t like my work, onto I’m afraid that I don’t get my work out there and maybe that one person their life could be made easier, by me sharing what it is I believe in, then that’s work worth doing. So, but again, it’s not easy. Our brains gonna notice the negative, the critics, the behind the screen warriors, but when we can believe more in our work, than more about what people think about us, that’s when we can take action behind our dreams.
John Jantsch: So let’s end on a cynical note, shall we?
Petra Kolber: Okay.
John Jantsch: Some might say that perfection has it’s benefits.
Petra Kolber: Yeah, no, again, I mean I never said it didn’t. So that’s fully circle back. Okay. That was the imperfect end. So we’ll circle fully back. Perfect is only a word until you attach an emotion to it. I would change the word perfect, because for me and this is only … This is a personal thing. Again, this is when I’d ask your listeners to go. This might not even be an issue for you, but if the idea of being perfect, or putting out the perfect job, the perfect blog, the perfect podcast. If that stops you from executing, let’s reframe what that word means. Let’s say I’m gonna put out and excellent podcast. I reframe it from being a perfectionist to a passionist. If you can put passion behind your driver instead of perfection, you will probably work harder than you ever have worked before, but this is the area that a lot of people find tricky. If I give up the idea of being perfect, they suddenly see themselves on a couch watching, like binge watching Netflix. I actually think if you give up … I invite you to consider.
If you give up the idea of being perfect, what you think your top level of success is, is actually your mid level, because for many of us, not everyone. If we think we have to be perfect leaders, perfect bosses, we hate to say we don’t know the answer, we hate to ask for help, we have hard time delegating, we don’t give our brains time to relax and find flow and find a place of curiosity. So I often think what you think your success is now, if you eased up the breaks a little bit, not on the work, but changed your driver from fear and has to be flawless and pristine, ’cause also there’s where are you gonna learn. If somethings flawless, how the heck is it gonna get better. So I like it a little bit rough around the edges. That allows us to have iteration 2.0, 3.0, fine tune, fine tune, fine tune, ’cause I’m not sure if it becomes perfect, there’s no more room for learning, growth and expansion.
Don’t know if that answers … and I hopefully that wasn’t quite so cynical.
John Jantsch: No, I was actually saying that you know, I could see some people saying that. Well that’s just an excuse to do sloppy work, which is what some people would say, but I would counter to that, that the perfections excuse not to ship.
Petra Kolber: Exactly, and I think there’s a different … No perfectionist I know, John. No one I’ve worked with has ever gone from being a perfectionist to being sloppy. That’s just not gonna happen, it’s not in your DNA, but you’re gonna double check your work but you’re not gonna be paralyzed, by going through it with a fine tooth comb, like you said. So you never ship. Would you rather have something slightly imperfect out in the world, or your perfect silence. So, that’s the things that often happens here. Is when we’re trying to be perfect, we often become paralyzed. So let’s just change the conversation around that.
John Jantsch: Yeah, and I think one of the real keys is that you have to have so much self trust in what you’re doing that when I first started writing, I was a terrible writer. I mad grammatical mistakes, really silly ones. When I started speaking I was very bad at that, but I knew that those were gonna be important elements and the only way to get good at ’em was to just do ’em.
Petra Kolber: Yeah, got to get them out. Get the feedback, get the feedforward, and again it doesn’t have to be … That’s the thing, I think … That’s the bit where we get really stuck. I’m gonna wait to do the perfect speech. I’m gonna wait to do the perfected launch. I’m gonna wait to write the perfect book and that for me Johnathan, for many years paralyzed me and now I’m like, if it’s good enough so I don’t embarrass myself, I look professional, I’ve done the work. I’ve done the preparation. I show up and it’s good enough, fantastic, and then also then I allow room for constructive feedback to get better, but then I also know, I’m not gonna be someone that shows up unprepared and if I am, then I deserve to be remarked upon, then shame on me. So I don’t think I’ve ever met a protectionist that goes from that extreme to giving out shoddy work. It’s just not gonna happen.
John Jantsch: Visiting with Petra Kolber author of the Perfection Detox. So Petra, we’re gonna have a link in the show notes to your website, but tell people if they want to learn more about what you’re doing and what you have to offer, and where they can find. You.
Petra Kolber: Great, my traditional website is just my name petrakolber.com and then more about Perfection Detox, just perfectiondetox.com.
John Jantsch: And my great gran mother Celia McLaughlin who is indeed a Scot, thanks you for coming on the show.
Petra Kolber: Your so welcome. Thank you.
John Jantsch: Hopefully we’ll see you next time I am up and around your part of the world Petra. Great to visit with you.
Petra Kolber: Thank John.