Things don't have to be perfect to Notice goodness.
I am an expert Noticer. I am also a recovering perfectionist. It is from these lenses that I am sharing my thoughts with you today.
I have spent the past 10 years paying close attention to what happens when people Notice and get Noticed. I have witnessed the profound impact that Noticing has on the giver and the receiver. I have witnessed the impact that Noticing goodness has on individuals and the communities that they are a part of. And possibly most interesting to me, I have observed the resistance that often shows up when it comes to Noticing goodness, and especially receiving being Noticed.
I have spent the past 12 years as a recovering perfectionist after having practiced perfectionism for over 30 years. If you've heard me speak on this topic you know that I feel like being a recovering perfectionist is like being a recovering anything else in that it is a journey that requires diligence. We get good at what we practice and in my case I got really good at trying to be perfect. Trying being the operative word here.
Thanks to the profound advice of my counselor I began to see the toll that this "trying to be perfect" was taking on my life. She gave me the following word picture...a metaphor that I have used regularly over the past 12 years, and a building block to the philosophy and practice of Noticing goodness.
Let's say you have two people who have both accomplished 10 things (9 of them very well )-- one a perfectionist, the other a person of excellence. The perfectionist will focus on the 1 thing that wasn't perfect until they feel stuck with overwhelm, frustration, and shame. But the person of excellence will celebrate the 9 things that went very well and look for ways to improve that 10th thing. I want to be a person of excellence!
Have you ever tried to Notice the goodness in someone (or even yourself) only to have your compliment diffused, dismissed, or disclaimed? Some of the most common examples I've heard are things like:
You look so nice today :)
Thanks, I took a shower :(
I really like that shirt.
I got it on sale.
I've Noticed how patient you are with the kids.
You're just catching me in a good moment.
This looks AMAZING!
Well, you should see my _______________ (car, house, closet, or whatever example of the thing or place they don't think looks amazing).
I've been paying attention to these reactions for 10 years now and the Brene Brown in me is curious. I would love to better understand this phenomena. Part of me knows that it is a desire to be humble that prompts these responses. We don't want to be big headed or tooting our own horns. Part of me knows that it is prompted by social norms "it's just what we do". And part of me is aware that though we as people need to be Noticed, we get uncomfortable when there is a light shined on us.
This is where I think perfectionism comes in. No matter how big or how small of a practice, when we think everything should be perfect before we can Notice goodness (or be Noticed for our own goodness) we get stuck. This is especially true when it comes to Noticing the goodness in ourselves. After all, we are often our own worst critics.
So here's where I think a powerful paradigm shift makes a HUGE difference in our lives and in the world.
What if we could Notice the goodness in ourselves and others -- just because it's good.
The expert in me sees so much potential in this shift! Here are a few of the things I know for sure:
What we NOTICE leads to what we FOCUS on, and what we focus on creates MOMENTUM. That being said, if we Notice goodness, we focus on it, and we get more of the goodness we focus on. (The hard truth here is that this goes both ways so if we focus on the negative we get more of that,) Choosing to Notice goodness creates positive momentum.
When we can authentically Notice the goodness in ourselves we can give that kindness away in a more authentic way when we Notice others. So often we just want to make the world a better place, and this is a way we can do it no matter where we are or who we're with.
When we believe there is goodness in ourselves we can more easily receive the compliments and goodness that is given to us by others. In other words, we can simply say "Thank you. You're so kind." when someone gives us a compliment. It keeps the goodness flowing.
How we give and receive the gift of Noticing goodness sets such a strong example for the people around us. Whether to ourselves, our friends, children, family members, co-workers or even on-line acquaintances, we get to show up as people of excellence if we choose. We get to have that growth mindset that flourishes with humble gratitude, accountability and grace. We create a legacy of positive relationships!
When we make Noticing goodness a normal part of our families, friend groups, work places, etc. the positive momentum is multiplied exponentially. This creates spaces that are more enjoyable and better equipped to find solutions and foster resilience when times are challenging. It creates want-to instead of have-to.
When we Notice goodness we can more easily practice being people of excellence. Celebrating all the goodness and being strong enough to confidently look for ways to improve those things that we want or need to improve.
Becoming a person of excellence didn't happen for me overnight. It was a series of small decisions to choose to Notice goodness, and a commitment to myself to pay attention. That is, I pay attention to what I am noticing and if I start to identify with that critical perfectionist voice within, I ask myself what goodness I can Notice about myself or the situation. That one good question changes my focus and always creates a more positive momentum (and reliably provides some much needed relief).
"Things really don't have to be perfect to Notice goodness."
~Amy Johnson, Expert Noticer & Recovering Perfectionist