Learning that 110% isn’t Good

My last post was almost two months ago.  What happened?  To be honest, in the spirit of Working Out Loud, I have to work on not working so hard and setting limits.

For most of the past two months, I have been working on a tremendously exciting project with Julian Stodd’s Sea Salt Learning group.  Serving as Online Community Manager for a senior leadership program applying Julian’s work on social learning, storytelling for business and social leadership has been a tremendous opportunity.  I dove in – and let it consume my life.

I let it override my other projects – preparing to launch my own consulting practice, completing the website for said practice, keeping up with my blog, twitter and other social networking efforts, preparing for the Skill Application Exam for the CPLP certification, etc.


Passion – I LOVE what I do.  I totally get into understanding how learning works, why it doesn’t, and how to help people learn what they need to learn.  There’s nothing wrong with passion for my work.  Too many people got to work every day just because its’ how they pay their bills.  They just go through the motions.  I value my passion for what I do, but I also let it carry me away.  I’ll spend hours reading articles and related research because I come across a link and then another.  All relevant, all interesting.  But all taking up time I should be spending on other things.

Disdain for Regimentation – At times when I’ve caught glimpses of colleagues calendars and they have every waking minute scheduled for the next two months, I literally have shuddered.  My Mom has such a structured life (which she adores) that I know exactly where she will be nearly every day of every week.  Both extremes, but I default to the other end of the spectrum.  It may come from years of learning to cope with ambiguity and living a life not fearful of failing.  I love change, ambiguity is my friend, resilience is probably one of my best qualities.  But living in these states prevents me from the at least minimal structure I need to get to the gym or to blog regularly.  Things I WANT to do.

Perfectionism – This one has provided a career for a couple therapists over the years.  No matter what I’m doing, I can always imagine doing it better than what I currently am.  Sometimes it freezes me into inaction and other times it leads me to look for another research paper or revise a document one more time when it already is good enough for the job at hand.  At it’s worst, I delay and delay and then hurriedly complete a project that could have been better if only I hadn’t worried about it being perfect.

Focus and Effort – Yet again another double-edged sword.   I can easily get tunnel visioned on projects and give them 110% effort.  In theory, this is a great characteristic.  In theory, I would have all the time in the world available for every project.  In practice, to have time to complete everything I need and want to do, I need to divide my focus.  Working late into the night might feel good because I’m getting a lot done, but regular sleep and exercise are necessary for long-term success.

Clearly, I have a pretty good line of sight on at least some of my flaws.  So why don’t I just change them?  I see the benefit in the change.  But these same characteristics have driven my success over the years.  They are habits I’m comfortable with and habits are hard to change.

But I owe my clients better.  I owe my partners better.  I owe myself better.

One of my favorite quotes from Julian Stodd’s work is:

the things that got us this far will not get us the rest of the way.

So time for some self-reflection.  Time to get serious about working-out-loud.  Time to set my priorities and plan for all of the components needed to make my great life even better.

Feature Image provided by openclipart.com

What do you think?  Do you struggle with any of these characteristics?  Any advice?  Please feel free to comment below.