Is perfect the enemy of progress?

It's a progress not a perfect for executive womem with Amanda Blesing Executive Coach.jpg


"If you can't do something properly, then don't do it at all."

This principle ruled my life for years.

  •  If I couldn't do a 90 minute workout at the gym, it wasn't worth going.

  •  If I wouldn't easily pass the exam near the top of the class, I couldn't be bothered participating.

  • If I didn't meet all the criteria, then I wouldn't throw my hat in the ring.

  •  If I wouldn't likely win a prize, it wasn't worth doing at all.

It’s not about immediate perfection. It’s about learning something over time: confronting a challenge and making progress.
— Carol S. Dweck

It was exhausting. All the mental anguish involved in pre-emptively measuring, judging and comparing ensured that I rarely got out of my comfort zone but was incredibly envious of those who did.

It was also incredibly limiting.

There was not a lot of flying by the seat of my pants, having a crack at things, or colouring outside the lines.  Which left me not trying, not giving thing a shot and ..... and not going anywhere anytime soon.


Research tells me that I'm not alone; that women in the corporate world are more likely to be perfectionists and more self-critical than their male counterparts, holding themselves back from opportunities until they’re sure they can predict the outcome.  

Where an attitude of taking advantage of opportunities that come your way (whether you can easily predict the outcome or not) is the smarter play, we're still focused on doing things really, really well.

Yes, there are still double standards for women in the workplace with the burden of over proof. There are expectations of us needing to jump through extra hoops and do things better, to prove our worth over again. Then again, the perfectionist also has that additional double standard for themselves - over proving, over polishing, over and over again.

High standards are one thing, but perfectionism definitely becomes a double edged sword.


Tim Ferriss, in his book Four Hour Body, writes about how people who measure and track their weight regularly, get far better weight loss results over time, than those who don't. It's as though their motivation is higher and they are more resilient because they had more data, and subsequently understood how to navigate the peaks and troughs along the way towards their long term weight loss goal.

There was even a case study about a guy who lost a significant amount of weight, not by (intentionally) changing his diet or exercise regime, but by simply weighing, measuring and keeping track.  (Go figure!)

While I recently heard a story about a group of male colleagues who tracked the progress of their male MBA cohort (yes, they ran Excel spreadsheets), so they could see how they were measuring up against each other, I suspect this is unusual, and more about competition than progress.  

I don't think many of us track and measure progress in our daily lives, and certainly we don't do it much with our career.  We tend to celebrate the big wins, the rockstar moments, but rarely the smaller milestones along the way.


So what would happen if we tracked progress, not perfect?  What would happen if we still kept our eye on the prize, but tracked and rewarded in smaller increments along the way?

This month as a trial, I've implemented a new initiative for my clients. No more Friday Achievement Formula for us (even though I love it). Instead I'm replacing it with the Friday Progress Report. 

Every Friday for the next month, list five things, where you've seen progress, where the dial has shifted and you've moved closer to your end goal, where you've learned something new that will help you achieve your end goal, or where you've improved.

This will require measuring, strategy and prioritisation. It will also require keeping a journal, a spreadsheet or a whiteboard visual reminder.

There is something very rewarding about ticking off a checklist. There is something even more rewarding and motivating when you systematically and regularly track your progress towards your big goals.

Why? When a recovering perfectionist is only focused on the big goals, big achievements, big end results all the time, we run the risk of losing sight of how far we have come then becoming disheartened or disengaged.

Key to success?

  • Regular checking in on your goal and tracking towards it

  • Celebrating progress along the way  

  • Reward yourself for trying new things even if they don't return much initially

  • Acknowledging failure or mis-steps as a learning opportunities.

 It's not failure, it's data" ~ Dorie Clark


There is a saying in yoga - it's a practice not a perfect.  This reminds yogis to stop and smell the roses, that the yoga class is about the journey, not the destination and that while the peak poses are fun, that's not the why we do yoga. Instead, yoga asana is about what you learn about yourself along the way to achieving a peak pose.  Then what you do with that insight, how you course correct, adapt and incorporate new things, is what will ultimately help you achieve the peak pose much more easily.

The same goes for our careers and leadership.  It's what you learn along the way that will help you not just win in the career game, but to lead and succeed as well.

YOUR THOUGHTS? Do you regularly track progress? Or do you track only the big wins? What works for you and why? Drop me a note and let me know.

#womenofimpact #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #perfectionism

Share if you dare, to inspire another woman somewhere!

Over the years I’ve written a lot about perfectionism – read more >>

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

10 Awesome Reasons for Hiring a Mentor

No longer are professional career mentors just for the elite. In fact it’s actually considered a great strategy for anyone, especially for those wanting to get ahead much faster. It's a bit like a personal trainer but for your work fitness - consistency, accountability and with an end goal. In fact, in the gender diversity space mentors for women are part of a recommended strategy to help keep women focused on career progression, “leaning in” and leadership pipelines.

Sick of reading? Check it out on YouTube

In order to find a mentor, you could ask a senior person in your circle of influence to mentor you for free. Or in the absence of a senior person, you could pay for a mentor. Why not consider a combination of the both? And one of the big benefits of the paid mentor over a free mentor is that the paid mentor’s first priority is you.

So to help you make your mind up about whether or not Ambition Revolution mentoring is for you here are my top 10 reasons why you could and should have a mentor. 

1. You’ll end up working on a program tailored to suit your exact requirements. Your program will be a combination of practical, tactical and strategic – blending long term goals with short term strategies and vice versa.

2. You have someone to hold you accountable, to check up on you and give you a nudge when you need.

3. You have someone to bounce ideas off - who doesn’t have a vested interest in anything other than your results. Plus they won't mind if your ideas are wobbly or only half formed. You get to try out all your worst ideas outside of the office in a safe environment. Your executive team will simply get to see the finished product.

4. You get someone to keep you motivated and get you through dips and slumps, keeping you focused on the end game and reminding you how far you’ve come so far.

5. You have someone to keep you confident and feeling self assured. Did you know that when it comes to success, confidence correlates at least as closely to confidence as competence? 

Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence.
— Katty Kay & Claire Shipman

Want to know more about that? Read Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s telling article in the Atlantic The Confidence Gap

6. Your commitment is only one hour per fortnight – with tactical, specific homework on your career strategy between sessions (not some random case study).

7. You’ll have someone to help you focus. As you’ve probably heard about with recent research into the flow state – there is an amazing correlation between flow, focus and results and a quite telling inverse correlation between focus and effort. So here’s the thing. When focus increases? Perceived effort seems to fall. You find yourself in the zone and work becomes more meaningful and you become happier. Want to learn more about flow? Check out Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s TED talk

8. Wisdom and guidance from someone who has been there or at the very least has other clients working through the same issues.

9. You’ll feel like you are growing and developing even though the focus is on your work. Work on your career will have never felt so much like fun!

10. You'll feel like you have more time left in your week to focus on all the other things that are also important - friends, family and wellness.  We've all heard that old maxim that when we are lying on our death bed we're not going to say "I wish I spent more time at the office".

Curious? I've been having fun again with technology. Check out my latest video on the benefits of mentoring!

Vive la révolution! Ambition Revolution! 
  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and art of amping smart and savvy.

  • I mentor ambitious professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game.

  • I also with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so.

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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

10 Motivation Game-changers when doing Big, Important Work

10 Tips to Keep You Motivated when doing Big Important Work

Midway through last year I conceived an idea that instead of working for someone else, I wanted to create something all of my own. This "whatever it was" needed to sustain me, be something I truly believed in and also something that fitted into my work ethos of "helping people do better work".

And then it came to me - gender diversity, leadership, empowering others and creating change - yes, I wanted to be an 'Ambition Revolutionary' when I grew up!

This idea was bold, audacious and some even told me I would be labelled negatively. However, for some reason I wasn't deterred by what others thought and decided to establish myself as a thought leader (thinker, speaker, mentor and trainer) on the topic of empowering women into leadership roles - because it's big important work and I'd like to be the one to do it.

It's now been six months and while I'm still absolutely loving this new game, it's definitely been a steep learning curve. So for any other budding Ambition Revolutionaries out there wanting to take a risk with their career, to level up, go for that big promotion, or do something wild and audacious - here are my top 10 tips to keep you fired up.

  1. Establish a Gratitude Practice (an antidote to fear) - when I made the decision to go out on my own I adopted a morning gratitude practice. Of all the things I do to support wellbeing, physical and mental health, I can honestly say that this has been a game changer. In fact, my recent research has taught me that women in particular will more easily find the negative - unless we are disciplined about it!! So "gratitude" away my friends. Not only will it change the way you think but it changes your brain structure as well in positive ways.
  2. Take Action (putting your money where your mouth is) – you can read about an apple and look at an apple all you like, but until you eat the apple you don’t really know an apple. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other towards your goal and it gets closer every single day. And better yet, action is the perfect antidote for low confidence and despair. 
  3. Establish Routines (that get the grunt work out of the way) – put things in your diary and allocation time targets against them.  Design beats discipline every time! And routines are definitely a great antidote to human error and human nature. 
  4. Maintain an Attitude of Curiosity - curiosity is a perfect antidote to all or nothing thinking, black v's white and the need to exaggerate -  plus it removes disheartenment when things don't go exactly to plan.
  5. Connection with Like-minded People – for me right now these people are big thinkers, creative types, entrepreneurs, doers and action people. I'm blessed with many like-minded people in my close circle and it's my antidote to stagnation and remorse.
  6. Daily Journalling – not only does it help me make sense and create clarity of the day prior, but it has been a great tool for me to decode some of my darker ruminations. Better yet, there is even some research around about the benefits of journalling. It focuses me on what’s important, creating content quickly and firmly on my next steps. It's a gentle way to enter the day - and a great antidote for procrastination.
  7. Finding Internal Motivations (intrinsic drivers and also positive motivators) - external motivators such as money, acknowledgement, and prestige are all fine, but in the early days those external things are in low supply!  So identifying things that make you want to get out of bed early each morning is critical. Fear might also be a great motivator, but intrinsic positive drivers feel so much better - and are my antidote to lethargy and flagging willpower. 
  8. Getting BHAGs Out of the Way Early. If I am able to kickstart my working day with one big thinking item it means I don’t have the burden of outstanding important items hanging over me throughout the day. Have you ever had the experience of being late with your tax return?  The constant nagging at the back of your mind is so draining that surely one day some researcher somewhere is going to prove it contributes to a shortened life expectancy! So my antidote to feeling like you are behind constantly is to get a head start on BHAGs early in your day - and if you haven't done your tax yet - go do that now.  
  9. The Reframe Technique – be vigilant with your internal language. If I notice or hear myself say something negative about myself or my situation, I immediately reframe it into positive language. So when money feels tight I journal "how is it that money is so abundant and flowing in my household?" If my writing is stagnant - "Why is it that I’m so good at writing amazing content for people that creates lasting change and clients wanting more?" In fact, I find if do this in advance I'm already on the front foot - a perfect antidote to an overactive worry-wort centre.
  10. Know That All This is Normal (my antidote to feeling like an outlier) - the knowledge that my insecurities, feelings of being an imposter, a perfectionist and simply not good enough are actually not unique. Most people have these same insecurities including two ambitious and highly successful women who I admire greatly – Angela Merkel, German Chancellor and Christine Lagarde, IMF Chief  - according to The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman.  And if they can feel like this and still do amazing work then its entirely possible for me. 

So if you were to go do something big, scary and out of your comfort zone with your career and earning potential, how would you cope? What strategies would you employ? What advice would you give? 


    If you missed it- 3 Inspiring Reads for Ambition Revolutionaries


  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 
  • I mentor ambitious professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so.

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months