Speech! (and time and perfectionism)

On Saturday, I went to a Toastmasters International meeting. (Toastmasters International is known worldwide for its public speaking and leadership curriculum.) Members give speeches at each meeting – and all speakers want to adhere to certain guidelines, like keeping within a time limit and avoiding any filler words like ‘uh’, ‘um’ and such.

I served as a guest timekeeper. (I say guest because I will be a member soon, I think.) I used the stopwatch function on my phone to record the length of each speech and then reminded each speaker how much time they had left to speak.

Everyone at the Toastmasters meeting was friendly & helpful and I received much-needed instructions on how to complete my timekeeper role. Nonetheless, by the end of the meeting, I knew that the timekeeper role stressed me out!

Now, the first time I do anything, I want perfection. This is probably why I was nervous keeping time and why I found the role stressful.

I absolutely can be a perfectionist — and this is NOT a trait I want to carry around. Hoping to rid myself of perfectionist tendencies, I did a little reading. I’ll leave you with three interesting thoughts, one from the Houston Chronicle, another from FORTUNE Magazine and the last from Psychology Today. (SPOILER alert: after reading these articles, I still want to rid my world of perfectionism.)

1. The Houston Chronicle tells us that the desire to be perfect can cause stress, procrastination and strained relationships in the workplace.
2. The authors at FORTUNE Magazine say that the desire to be perfect  lowers confidence. (Sometimes, I wonder if our desire to be perfect ruins our confidence.)
3. The desire to be perfect can be controlled according to Psychology Today, which compares the trait to a bike pedal. (Their idea, I think, is that we can increase or decrease the trait much like a bike rider who applies a bike pedal to go faster or slower depending on their need.)

What do you think about perfectionism? Is it always a bad trait that lowers confidence? Can it be controlled?


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