How leaders avert overthinking and the curse of perfectionism

Grace had an amazing capacity for analytical thinking, but she was using her superpower to overthink the simplest of problems. She worried about getting the right answer to any issue, believing a mistake could cost her job. Worrying about finding a perfect solution made her anxious most of the time. Her tendency for analysis paralysis was not only damaging her wellbeing, but it was also destroying her team. They were reluctant to take risks because a misstep could have serious repercussions. She was always striving to achieve perfection because it seemed to give meaning to her life. But overthinking had become a curse that brought with it an insidious form of procrastination.

She wondered how she had strayed so far off course from her commitment to achieve great things for herself and her team. Instead, her inflexible nature was alienating people around her. There was always an ideal scenario for everything she did. If a presentation or report did not meet her expectations, she would obsess over it and beat herself up. Even if things went well, she questioned how they could have been better. The result was she ignored her accomplishments because they were in the past and no longer relevant. She was always dissatisfied. It was all quite unintentional because deep-down, she always held people and relationships as more important than material success.

Investing in a coaching program gave Grace the opportunity to reflect on her future self. She stopped beating herself up for mistakes, which lifted a huge load off her shoulders. If she experienced a setback or failure, she did not have to give up. Her health improved as she prioritised her well-being and gave up subjecting herself to constant negative internal thoughts and emotions. She stopped sacrificing her sleep and recreation in the name of work. She is no longer working on her ‘flaws,’ choosing instead to focus on her strength of achieving results. Work has become more fulfilling for both her and her team because she no longer undermines and downplays her achievements.

Melody Wilding in the HBR article, How to Stop Overthinking Everything, suggests five ways to stop the cycle of thinking too much and drive towards better, faster decisions.

  • Put aside perfectionism
  • Right-size the problem
  • Leverage the underestimated power of intuition
  • Limit the drain of decision fatigue
  • Construct creative constraints

🙋‍♀️ What else would you add to the list to avoid overthinking?🙋‍♂️

Best Regards, Brian