The inner critic is a contracting, diminishing voice. As it grows louder, you become smaller, weaker, less open, less generous. Your stuck in your head, not actually in your feelings. Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar (Leadership Presence)
When I am in my head/ box I want to be perfect. When I look at my thoughts throughout my life I have been trained to be a perfectionist. If I think about school, I always wanted to be on the honor roll, have perfect attendance and have a 4.0 GPA. However, perfectionism brings with it the inner critic.
This voice inside of ourselves creates our first wall by telling us we can’t make mistakes and need to do everything right. The problem is none of us our perfect and once we do make mistakes this wall begins to form. The wall increases with size with the more mistakes we make and the more we focus on what we did wrong. This wall can become enormous and cause us to under perform in all aspects of our lives.
When I returned to Columbus I started interviewing with companies in hopes of landing a job. One of my first interviews was with Automatic Data Processing as a recruiter. I remember sitting in the lobby at ADP going over my notes prior to the interview. I was very prepared in that I had researched the company, formulated questions, and also had my personal achievements highlighted for the interview. I was focused and wanted to be perfect in the interview.
I was called into the office, and they took me to a conference room where I was greeted by two team members. As the interview began, my inner critic started to introduce himself. It was telling me I was not qualified for this position, I did not have the right experience and I am an actor not a recruiter. As the interview went on, the inner critic’s voice got higher and my confidence level went lower. There is a direct correlation between our inner critic’s and our confidence level.
The interview lasted thirty minutes and toward the end of the interview I rushed to get out all the information I had prepared for the interview. I told them what I knew about the company, my personal strengths as a recruiter and asked them the questions I had prepared. I had such a need to be perfect in the interview and this came across to them as well.
I was building my wall due to the fact I was trying to be perfect. As I was leaving the interview I knew I would not get a second interview and the job search would continue. And I was right!
The most effective way to break this wall of the mental box is to embrace mistakes. Once you allow yourself to be imperfect and be wrong you begin to operate in a new space. This is exactly what I did when I interviewed at Manpower Professional a few month later.
Manpower had an opening at its Gahanna office for a finance recruiter and I landed an interview. I went into my interview with a completely different frame of mind. I was prepared, had my notes but I did not aim for perfection. I knew I would be nervous and told myself mistakes will happen and that okay. The result, I connected instantly with the hiring manager and the interview lasted over an hour. I would say of the hour I spoke about 15 minutes. The majority of the interview I listened to him tell stories about Manpower, his career and his overall take of the staffing industry.
If I had gone into this interview like I did the ADP interview I would not have had the flexibility to listen and I would have wanted to get all my information out during the interview. The wall of perfectionism curtails flexibility and puts one on a path of rigidity and conformity.
When this interview ended I only asked one question and barely told him what I knew about Manpower. However, what I did have was a connection and rapport with him which was much more valuable. In two days I got a call from Manpower and landed a second interview and eventually a position as a financial recruiter.