The Perfect Pandemic Pivot

Kim Linton

July 13, 2020

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The Perfect Pandemic Pivot
By Kim Linton

"Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best. Perfectionism is a 20-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it's the thing that's really been preventing us from being seen and taking flight." - Brené Brown

Spoiler alert: this article will not teach you how to achieve perfection. #itsnothealthy #dontrecommend This article will shine a light on moving towards healthy striving and choosing progress over perfection.

Progress over perfection: a skill we can build any time but is especially useful during the pandemic. Whether you're looking to make a career change, struggling with a new routine, or are just plain starting over.

Perfection is a Problem

Perfection used to be my middle name. I grew up with two high-ranking military parents. Our household mantra was "measure twice, cut once."

As a young adult I took pride in this mantra, maintaining an illusion that I had higher standards than other people. The truth - I was paralyzed by the fear of perfection and struggled to make decisions. The truth - it made me a great follower. Not so much a great leader.

I still struggle with perfection today. I was told by a successful mentor, Dr. Brené Brown, that I'm "highly compliant." She meant it as a compliment, but it cut me to the core.

Why do we choose to put on a brave face instead of being brave? Why do we feel shame to take off our face-covering in a room full of bare-faced people, even though we're doing the right thing? Why are gaps in our resume considered taboo?

The Secret

I've spent years blending concepts of agility and leadership and I've got a secret to share. Truthfully, it's not a new concept, but I move beyond surface-level so you can build the muscle of this invaluable skill.

Many experts and gurus will tell you to "just do it" or "just get started" when it comes to our analysis paralysis. That's all fine and good but how do we actually do that? I get super frustrated by this advice.

Let's go above and beyond the gauziness of "just do it," shall we?

The secret is... you iterate.

Iterate is a weird word. I'd never heard of it until my work with agile software development. When you Google the word you'll find a complicated, mathematical, software definition. But I'm convinced we can use it to skill-up in our everyday lives.

To iterate means to behave in a certain way again, and again, and again moving closer to the desired result.

The moment you give yourself permission to not get it right the first time is the moment you start succeeding. You can find this in your personal life and in business. Set the expectation that you are on an iterative journey with a specific end goal. Each iteration should be timeboxed and intentional and will provide you with meaningful data (or not) which will force you to learn and grow.

Time to Iterate

An excellent example of iterating that you have probably done many times in your life without knowing is participating in an assembly line. Perhaps you assembled party favors with friends or were serving food in a buffet line.

There's a reason the assembly line became popular back in the 1900s because as each person stayed at their location in the line, they got faster. What the history books rarely talk about is that each person also got better. Individually they became better as they learned the most effective way to perform their task, then collectively they started to discover how to become better as a unit. The same basic idea applies to iterating.

We behave in a certain way again, and again, and again while moving closer to the desired result.

So, 2020 didn't go according to any of our plans. What does progress over perfection look like for you? Here are some relevant examples from my own life:

- Get better at actionable behaviors around diversity, equity, and inclusion; like speaking up when I notice an inequity or injustice, even if it's uncomfortable.
- Exercising around my house and neighborhood, even if for 10 minutes, because my local gym closed down due to COVID.
- Saving money in smaller increments even though revenues are lower than expected in 2020.

Parallel Listen: "Round and Round" by Imagine Dragons (Spotify | Apple Music | YouTube)

Want to go deeper with progress over perfection? Struggling with a pandemic pivot? Kim is the owner of 1Light Daring Leadership & Facilitation. She works with individuals and teams who want to make work modern, courageous and intentional. She is a Certified Dare to Leadâ„¢ Facilitator, and provides agile, repeatable, profitable solutions for teams. Reach her at and see more at

Kim is the newest addition to the WITI Wellbeing Center and will be teaching her first class Skill-Practice: Vulnerability + Perfection FRIDAY, JULY 17, 2020 1:30-2:30 PM PDT/4:30-5:30 EDT

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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