A few months back, I stumbled upon a quote that left a lasting impression on my personal growth and professional life: “Personal growth is about progress, not perfectionism.” Little did I realize then that the journey to embody this message would lead me to write this article—a process that has proven challenging and has left me vulnerable.  The irony is palpable; here I am, crafting an article about the virtues of prioritizing personal growth over perfectionism, yet finding it challenging to embrace my own imperfections in the process.  This piece has undergone multiple revisions in pursuit of an elusive perfection that directly contradicts its core message.  So, bear with me as I navigate this delicate balance.  I hope that amidst the imperfections, you’ll discover something valuable to take away.

Childhood Influences

Reflecting on my childhood, I am the youngest among my four siblings.  My status as the “baby” of the family led to a general family sentiment that I was spoiled.  Their claim isn’t entirely unfounded, as the age gap of 10 years between me and my older brothers meant that my parents were in a markedly different life stage when I came into the picture.  Growing up as the youngest nurtured my inherently competitive nature, an attribute inherited from my father. 

I’ve never shied away from a challenge, a trait honed during spirited family pickup football games and my perpetual quest to participate in the activities my older and undoubtedly cooler siblings engaged in.  While I recognize that my competitive streak traces its roots back to childhood, it wasn’t until I immersed myself in competitive sports that I truly grasped the extent of my resemblance to my father in this regard.

Competitive athlete

From the moment I could engage in competitive sports, I eagerly embraced the opportunity.  Growing up in a small town allowed me to dabble in various activities from an early age.  Whether it was donning the goalie gloves for my dad’s soccer team, taking on the roles of catcher and pitcher in softball, leading the basketball team in scoring, or showcasing my prowess as the best hitter in volleyball, I reveled in the multifaceted world of sports.  Being the tallest girl in my class contributed to my advantage on the field.

Although my former teammates might disagree, I never perceived my competitiveness in sports as a flaw; rather, it served as a driving force for improvement.  It pushed me to work harder than my opponents, compelling me to strive for excellence.  However, the intensity of my competitive spirit occasionally revealed itself in less favorable moments—particularly when faced with defeat.  I was never one to take losses lightly, a trait I now attribute, through the lens of therapy, to my subconscious defense mechanism against my father’s demanding expectations. 

In those moments, my harshest critic was, without a doubt, myself.  Although effective in shielding me from external judgment, this inclination towards self-criticism also made me a sore loser.  Over the years, and with the guidance of therapy, I’ve diligently worked on cultivating a healthier mindset, learning to accept losses and setbacks without excessively harsh self-judgment, and extending that grace to those around me.

Started as Confidence

The competitive spirit cultivated throughout my life as an athlete carried over into my personal and professional adulthood.  Particularly during my successful years as an athlete, confidence became a defining trait within me—a trait that still defines me to this day, albeit sometimes to my own detriment in the pursuit of personal growth.

The Spiral into Perfectionism

Confidence, in itself, is not a negative quality.  However, for me, it acted as the initial wind gust that eventually swirled into a full-blown West Texas windstorm, leading me down the spiraling path of perfectionism.  The belief in my abilities spiraled into a conviction that I could outperform anyone in any endeavor.  Fused with an inherent Type A personality and an unwavering work ethic, this cocktail of traits drove me to constantly push the boundaries, perpetually seeking self-improvement and maintaining an unattainably high level of performance to satiate every facet of my personality.

In practical terms, this translated into an unrelenting work schedule coupled with a persistent sense of dissatisfaction.  I found myself micromanaging every aspect of my life, bemoaning the perceived lack of effort from others, and perpetually discontent with their performance.  While I readily acknowledge my responsibility for the trajectory of my leadership skills as a business owner, I also recognize the recurring pattern in my personal and professional life—reliance on others often resulted in outcomes that fell short of my standards.  Frustratingly, more often than not, I took matters into my own hands, fostering a mindset that perpetuated the belief that it’s easier to do things myself than entrust someone else.  Regrettably, this mindset clashes starkly with the realities of running a business, where the sheer volume and complexity of tasks make it physically impossible to handle everything, let alone excel at each one.

Self-reflection

Seismic Shifts

Navigating the waters of welcoming a second child, launching a business, maintaining a full-time job, and facilitating my husband’s departure from a dissatisfying oilfield position to embrace the role of stay-at-home dad—all within a single year—undoubtedly proved to be a seismic shift in my world.  In 2021, while carrying out my duties as a full-time provider in a local ER, I eagerly anticipated the arrival of our second child in the summer.  Meanwhile, my husband’s discontent with his job prompted serious discussions about his departure and transition into the role of Mr. Mom.  The decision was not solely driven by our desire for a more seamless childcare solution but also by his overarching unhappiness in his current profession.  As my maternity leave concluded, I resumed my demanding work schedule while he took on home and family responsibilities.

The Learning Curve of Entrepreneurship

Simultaneously, we began our real estate wholesaling business— a venture that marked my inaugural adventure into entrepreneurship.  As I reflect on that period, I’ve come to recognize the steep learning curve inherent in such undertakings.  While my background on the basketball court instilled a sense of leadership, the realities of entrepreneurship quickly revealed the gaps in my leadership skills.  I grappled with impatience, a reluctance to trust, and a propensity for quick anger, which clashed with effective leadership.

Our business operations used virtual assistants from the Philippines for lead generation, with me handling acquisition and negotiations and my husband and I jointly managing dispositions.  Despite a few attempts to delegate the oversight of our virtual assistants to my husband, it proved to be an impossible task.  Any misstep was immediately attributed to him, creating strains in our marriage.  Unfortunately, the phrase “It’s not that hard,” a sentiment no employee wants to hear, became a recurrent refrain from me, undermining the collaborative spirit we initially envisioned for our business partnership. If you want to read more about our real estate journey, you can read about it here.

Perfectionism Trap that Limits Personal Growth

I found myself trapped in the belief that individuals like me were inherently predisposed to certain leadership shortcomings, and, in a way, I justified these tendencies as an integral part of my identity.  I want to clarify that this self-reflection is not an assertion of arrogance; instead, it’s an admission of the discomfort I feel in acknowledging the extent of my inadequacies as a natural leader.  This realization emerged as a significant challenge for our business right from its inception, and it’s a hurdle I anticipate grappling with throughout my career and entrepreneurial journey.

Admittedly, I harbored a conviction that I could execute tasks better than anyone else.  In our business, I felt compelled to be directly involved in every aspect.  If someone else was securing contracts, I convinced myself I could have negotiated better terms for a more substantial profit margin.  When I didn’t communicate directly with buyers, deals risked falling through due to misunderstandings about assignment fees or our operational processes.  Without my oversight in the title process, deadlines were missed, and financial errors appeared. 

The consequences of my inability to effectively delegate became increasingly apparent as our business expanded.  It became a source of strain as I ventured into new partnerships, pursued personal and professional opportunities, and, most significantly, strained the most meaningful relationship of all, my marriage.  A mentor’s advice struck a chord: “Even if they can only do it 70-80% as well as you can, it’s better than 0%.” Armed with this wisdom, we made the difficult decision to scale down our business operations, discontinue partnerships that demanded an intense time commitment, and, inevitably, earn less than our initial projections.  The sacrifice, however, rendered the business more manageable and sustainable.

The Imperfections that Limited Growth

When people discovered that my husband and I had ventured into business together, a question frequently posed was, “How is it working with your spouse?  Isn’t it the best?” To be honest, I struggled to provide a clear answer.  A part of me yearned for our partnership to mirror the image of a successful power couple often portrayed in the media—a dynamic where we complemented each other’s weaknesses and capitalized on each other’s strengths.  In my idealized vision, our joint professional endeavor would bring us closer together, offering a shared accomplishment to celebrate.

Regrettably, this vision did not materialize for us due to my issues with delegation and perfectionism.  I found it incredibly challenging to delineate our business and personal lives.  I distinctly recall a couples therapy session where I candidly expressed to our therapist, “I don’t want to have to sleep with my business partner, and I don’t know how to separate that from my husband.” The struggle lay in my inability to mold his thinking to align with mine or to match the level of effort I desired from him.  Our minds operate differently, which proved challenging to grasp while running our business.  I wanted his assistance, but I wanted it executed my way, not his, and this expectation was neither sustainable nor fair.  The realization of these dynamics underscored the need for boundaries and a recalibration of expectations within our professional and personal partnership.

Cultivate Personal Growth Mindset

Feeling somewhat defeated by the challenges of partnering with my spouse in business and overwhelmed by the burdens I had placed on myself, I decided to shift my focus toward transforming my mindset.  Engaging in deep self-reflection, I acknowledged that my leadership approach and expectations in both team management and the business partnership with my husband were grossly unfair and misplaced.  Recognizing the need for change, I turned to several influential books that played a pivotal role in altering my perspective:

1. “The Go-Giver Leader” by Bob Burg

2. “Who Not How” by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy

3. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey

personal growth book

While these resources were instrumental, the real catalyst for transformation came from several months dedicated to shifting my mindset.  It required a candid admission of my leadership shortcomings and business owner faults—a crucial first step in fostering my personal growth, as change is only possible when one acknowledges the existence of a problem.  I reached a point where I realized that I didn’t want to be the sole executor of every task in my business.  Understanding that doing so would transform the business into just another job—one I didn’t need, given the already excessive load on my plate.

Simultaneously, as I assumed a junior leadership position in my professional career, I identified aspects I wished to change in that role.  The parallels between the changes I sought professionally and those needed personally and in my business were intriguing.  It became evident that through self-reflection, change becomes not just possible but inevitable, provided one embraces the process.

Progress

Over the course of this year, I’ve experienced personal growth in various facets of my life, particularly in my role as a leader.  I possess a greater reservoir of patience and a deeper understanding that I neither desire nor am physically capable of shouldering every task solo.  My husband’s transition into a real estate agent has shifted our business dynamic, prompting me to trust his approach to organization, follow-up, and, most importantly, his work ethic.

A significant lesson learned has been embracing balance and relinquishing the pursuit of conquering the world in a single day.  Patience has emerged as a crucial virtue in both the realms of business and success; I now comprehend that these are processes that unfold over time.  Unlike the instant gratification the lottery promises, real estate investment demands a more measured and deliberate approach.

Moreover, I’ve recognized the importance of remaining relatable to employees and co-workers at every stage of one’s business and career.  This acknowledgment has led to a recalibration of my confidence, transforming it into a tool for developing processes that align with my beliefs.  Moving forward, I aim to leverage this confidence to educate and empower others with the knowledge they need to execute our tasks successfully.

Stay Tuned

The notion of “do what makes you happy” doesn’t resonate with me, as I firmly believe that happiness is a conscious choice.  Currently, I am choosing happiness in my job, relishing the opportunity for continued personal growth in a junior leadership role and gaining insights into the intricacies of running a multi-million-dollar business.  Personally, I am choosing happiness with my husband as he builds his real estate career as an agent while we continue to shape and evolve our own real estate business.  Achieving balance is my priority at this stage of life, striving to be a good mom to my kids, a supportive wife to my husband, and a professional success.

Launching this blog, I’ll admit to feeling a twinge of inadequacy in offering advice to others.  This article delves into a vulnerability I wasn’t initially comfortable sharing, but it lays bare the authentic challenges of entrepreneurship, motherhood, and the pursuit of lofty personal and professional goals.  There is balance in the chaos; I am still trying to find it.  I know there is hope for “people like me” to be great leaders; I just haven’t made it there yet.  There are perfectly crafted teams that operate without the owner’s constant oversight; I just haven’t created them yet.  I have seen couples collaboratively build a legacy, but this has yet to happen to us.  While I have yet to reach those milestones, my story is a work in progress.  Stay tuned, and don’t hesitate to ask any questions—I’m committed to being an open book throughout my journey to financial independence.