Overcoming Perfectionism & Following Your Fears


“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battle

When I first met my husband Colin, I was really struck with what I perceived as his level of perfectionism. However, in hindsight, I was mislabeling his high degree of organization and desire to do his best with perfectionism. He is actually not afraid of criticism. Over the past few years, my work in physician health has uncovered just how detrimental the need for perfectionism can be. As Brené Brown says in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, “When perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun and fear is the annoying backseat driver”. In fact, when we strive for this ideal, we are overly, concerned with what people will think and are trying to avoid being hurt.

The concept of perfectionism has been on my mind as we launch the pilot of our first Physicians for Physicians e-course. I have never professed to be a perfectionist but I have certainly felt very vulnerable to shame. I am sure many of us are which is why it is easier to swallow our fear of judgment and avoid “being seen”. However, this online endeavor, along with this blog, have been instrumental in showing me that the only way to follow your passion is to follow your fear.

Marie Forleo also talks about this concept in her Marie TV episode The Power of Following Your Fear. In this episode, she refers to the non-injury type of fears of “what if people laugh”, “what if it sucks” or my favorite “what if we build it an no one will come?”.

I think Steven Pressfield also brings this to light so eloquently in his book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battle (in addition to the other great message in the opening quote above) where he says:

“Self-doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking (and your friends), ‘Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?’ chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”

Marie Forleo often references this book as her all time go to as a creative entrepreneur and with message like that, I can see why.

So how do you really push past your fears, those internal gremlins, and desire for perfectionism, to follow your dreams and passion?

1) We must remember that anything truly worth achieving is going to come with grit and hard work. I see this as Colin and our web designer Abbas have continues to refine and edit the details of the course platform for months.

2) Do it for the right reasons. If Colin and I were creating an online learning platform and community for money and fame, well we would have given up ages ago. We are doing something we believe will add value to others and ourselves.

3) Be prepared to be patient and accept deadlines may not always be achievable. When Colin and I first set a launch date ages ago we aimed for September. We have had to modify our plans to the point we realized a beta version, or pilot, with a few trusted people would allow us to work out even more bugs. Now we will not officially start the first course until January 7th, 2017.

4) Challenges are more surmountable when shared. I am so fortunate to have a partner in this journey to keep me encouraged along the way.

Do you struggle with feelings of perfectionism? How have you moved past your fears to achieve something you desire?



Pressfield, S. (2002) The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battle. Black Irish Entertainment: New York.

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