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Last week I facilitated a workshop on the Happy Healthy Nonprofit: Linking Nonprofit High Performance to Wellbeing in Santa Cruz hosted by the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County.
Part of the workshop included an assessment and reflection about the causes of stress in the nonprofit workplace. I had participants use an online polling app to type in their answers and the combined responses generate a word cloud. The word “Perfectionism” was the most frequent response. It made me wonder how much workplace stress is self-inflicted.
Don’t get me wrong. There are many external circumstances that cause lots of workplace stress in nonprofits – lack of resources, difficult circumstances of people the nonprofit serves, demanding boards and leaders, and so on. But, some of our stress is self-generated. One way to reduce some stress is to find ways to turn that around.
Perfectionism is an internal mindset where we tell ourselves that bad things in the world will happen if our campaign, program or whatever is not perfect from the beginning , delivered with 500% and on a self-determined, but unrealistic deadline.
Perfectionism is the enemy of learning and ultimately of getting improved impact. It also makes work life really stressful.
If we can take a look at our own inner perfectionism and how it permeates our work life, it might help us reduce some stress. If we don’t understand this, then all we do is try to design the perfect program or campaign, one that is way too complex and takes many months to complete. Or we look at every task on our daily to do list as having to be done perfectly and comprehensively. That is exhausting.