Brave Not Perfect: Finding courage to counteract perfectionism

Written by Caroline Dowd-Higgins. Posted in Featured

Published on May 01, 2019 with No Comments

If you’re looking to shake off your fears and move forward in your career, I highly recommend Reshma Saujani’ slatest book, Brave, Not Perfect.  Saujani, who founded Girls Who Code in 2012, says that, for women to succeed in the business world, it’s about more than just leaning inor boosting self-confidence – she says it’s about finding courage.

Saujani’s thesis states that, from an early age, boys are taught to take risks and be brave, while girls are taught that perfection is what’s most important. It’s a sobering state of affairs for young girls and women that Saujani is on a mission to change.

In Saujani’s TED Talk(on which her book is based,) she explains the adverse effect perfectionism has on us as young girls and how perfectionism continues to hold us in its tyrannical grip into adulthood.

“The socialization of perfection has caused us to take less risks in our careers,” Saujani explains, “…it means our economy is being left behind on all the innovation and problems women would solve if they were socialized to be brave.”

Here are some of my favorite tips from Brave, Not Perfect– starting with the following list of myth-busting reminders adapted from the book. I encourage you to stick this on your frig or vision board and read it often:

  1. Failure is allowed
  2. Perfect does not equal happy
  3. Things won’t fall apart if I’m not perfect
  4. Perfection does not equal excellence
  5. I can make mistakes and still be successful

Saujani offers valuable strategies for building a “Bravery Mindset,” including the following three tips:

Look For Your Ledge –“Chances are there’s at least one challenge, one change, one dream quietly calling out to you that you’re afraid to step up to,” Saujani says.  “I call that ledge “the scary thing” – the thing that, if we could do it, it would make a major change in our lives.” Saujani encourages us to figure out what our particular ledge/”scary thing” is and move towards it.

Get Caught Trying –Saujani says that the best way to become fearless is to walk into “the fire of fear” and get used to challenging yourself, as often as possible, to take risks. As the saying goes, better to have tried and failed than not tried at all.

Get Comfortable With Failure/Rejection –In the start-up innovation world, there’s a well-known saying, “Fail early, fail often.” Entrepreneurs actually seek out rejection in order to learn and improve their product or service in a speedy and efficient manner. In her TED Talk, Saujani points out that “in Silicon Valley, no one even takes you seriously unless you’ve had two failed start-ups.” Learning that failure is just feedback, can help you adjust course and develop perseverance – an important attribute when moving forward with bravery.

In Brave, Not Perfect, Saujani reminds us that, by facing our fears, allowing imperfection, finding courage, and taking risks, we open ourselves up to new growth and success that wouldn’t otherwise have been possible. I encourage you to let go of “perfect” and find the courage to go for what you really want in life.

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About Caroline Dowd-Higgins


All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" (now in the 2ndedition) and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Vice President of Career Coaching and Employer Connections for the Ivy Tech Community Collegesystem and contributes to Huffington PostThrive GlobalEllevate Network,Mediumand The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana.Her online show:Thrive!about career & life empowerment for women is on YouTube. Caroline hosts the award winning podcast, Your Working Lifeon iTunesand SoundCloud. Follow her on FacebookLinkedIn,Google+,and Twitter.

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