Are you a perfectionist? Do you feel like everything has to be perfect before you can move on with your life?
It is natural for everyone to want things done in a certain way or the “right” way, but it’s time to stop being so hard on yourself and allow yourself to be imperfect. People who have an obsessive need for order and control in their lives are perfectionists. They strive for excellence in every aspect of their lives, from work projects to social interactions with others. When they make a mistake, they feel like it’s a personal failure and can’t move past it without punishing themselves.
Friends, I’m super excited for my guest today! He is a six-time champion of Dancing with the Stars and he just won his third Emmy Award for outstanding choreography for reality or variety programming. Today, he’s going to tell us what drove him to overcome perfectionism, how to let go of being a perfectionist, and so much more!
Derek Hough is an Emmy award-winning choreographer and New York Times best-selling author. He started dancing at age eleven and has since become the only six-time champion in franchise history of the world-famous ABC show Dancing with the Stars. He has a new live show in Las Vegas that I’m incredibly excited to go and see myself called No Limit, which takes you on a journey through a true fusion of dance and music, as Derek explores styles ranging from ballroom and tap to salsa, hip-hop, and everything in between.
As a multi-talented entertainer, Derek has appeared several times in films, television series, and stage projects as an actor. He made his feature film debut in the feature film Make Your Move and has a recurring role in the ABC TV series Nashville. Other stage performances where Derek appeared also include the critically-acclaimed production of Footloose, Radio City Music Hall’s New York Spring Spectacular, where he co-starred alongside the Tony Award-winning Laura Benanti. He also starred in NBC’s Hairspray Live!, together with Martin Short, Jennifer Hudson, and Ariana Grande.
Derek Hough has so many accolades to his name, and he has been so successful in his career. However, despite all his accomplishments, he still feels lonely and depressed sometimes.
“Being on Dancing With the Stars, you’re being judged by millions of people. There’s this pressure, and there’s this feeling of the desire of wanting to win and be the best, and one thing I realized along the way that really helped me tremendously and transformed my whole life experience was realizing I had won Dancing With the Stars for the third time, and I was a world champion Latin-American dancer before Dancing With the Stars, … [and yet] I was feeling super depressed. … I felt super lonely. I felt just in a dark place. … I realized I had this massive emptiness … because I realized that my whole life, I really felt like success equals love, or I felt like achievement equals love.” – Derek Hough
Success is a feeling. You can’t measure success in numbers or achievements. To feel successful, you need to love what you do and the life that surrounds it. Without love, success is hollow and empty. Love fuels our motivation to work hard for the things we want most in life — health, happiness, family, and friends. It inspires us to take risks because we know that anything worth having is worth fighting for, and this includes relationships with people we care about, as well as our careers and businesses.
“In order for me to get love, I had to become something. I had to be good at something. I had to be the best, and then I would be worthy of love. … I realized that’s not the case because … once you achieve something, you’re just like, ‘All right, what’s the next thing?’ So you never really fully feel resolved or feel loved at all when you accomplish those things.” – Derek Hough
In today’s fast-paced world, everyone is so consumed with their own lives and work that they don’t have the time to notice other people. This creates a huge disconnection between friends and family members, as well as an increased feeling of loneliness for many people. To feel loved, sometimes you think that you have to be good at something, to be the best, to be perfect. While there’s nothing wrong with striving to do your best, it can have negative effects, as well.
Perfectionists often feel that they need to be perfect at all times, never making mistakes or doing anything wrong. They put pressure on themselves to do well and not disappoint others. However, this pressure can cause a lot of anxiety, stress, and other mental health issues. It’s important to remember that we’re only humans!
“[Perfectionism is] paralyzing … because [perfection] doesn’t exist — it’s not real. … You’re never going to be perfect, and even if it is close to perfection, you’re still going to think that something’s wrong with it. So you’re living in a constant state of disappointment. … So realizing that perfection is the experience — … perfection is you being prepared and … putting in the hours and knowing that you’ve done the time — that’s perfection.” – Derek Hough
Sometimes, perfectionism is a major obstacle to success. It can lead you to feel like you are never good enough, which leads to chronic self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. This mindset can be toxic for your mental health because perfectionists tend to have higher rates of depression and anxiety.
“When I look back, … [I realized that] I had to change the definition of what perfection meant to me, which was the perfection [where] I get to help this person, I get to serve this person, [and] I get to see their face light up.” – Derek Hough
It’s time to stop living in fear of what people might think. Release the need for perfectionism and start living authentically. You don’t have to be perfect all the time! You just need a little more faith that you’re doing enough and a little less worry about how others perceive you. Letting go of perfectionism may seem impossible, but there are some things that you can do in order to start the process towards releasing this belief system from your life. A good way to start is to shift your focus on helping others instead of focusing too much on yourself.
We all have these moments where we feel like we’re not good enough, don’t measure up to society’s expectations of us, and that there is a standard for perfection that we’ll never reach. We want to do everything right, and we’re afraid of making mistakes. This is especially true for those who are pursuing their passions because they want the best possible outcome. But what if by trying so hard to be perfect you were actually preventing yourself from achieving your goals?
“What held me back? I think it’s just … that belief system that … I’m not good enough. … [that] I have to accomplish … all these things. … So, there was a lot of insecurity, a lot of fear of not being enough, which I’m sure everybody experiences.” – Derek Hough
It’s not easy to admit that you are not good enough. We all have thoughts of inadequacy that creep in from time to time, but it doesn’t mean you’re doomed for failure. There are things you can do to overcome these insecurities, and the first step is acknowledging the issue and then deciding what you can do about it.
“Acknowledging it first and foremost, and you have to just realize that … what you think it is, isn’t actually what it is. You might think, ‘Oh, I’m really upset about this, but then, when you actually start asking yourself more questions and digging a little deeper, you’re like, ‘Actually, that’s not upsetting me [because] it’s something that happened [to me] before.” – Derek Hough
We all have insecurities. It’s that one thing that we’re not happy with about ourselves. We all feel like there is something wrong with us and when someone points out what it is, it can be heartbreaking. But you don’t need to let your insecurities get the best of you! You are perfect just the way you are, no matter how imperfect they make you feel. What matters most is that your trust and belief in yourself remain.
“That’s why I tell people, ‘When you hear [someone telling you to] believe in yourself or love yourself,’ don’t just be like, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve heard that before.’ There’s a reason why we hear that so many times, and there’s a reason why you hear it everywhere — every show, every movie, every postcard — [it] is because it’s so important.” – Derek Hough
It’s time for a change. We’re not meant to be stuck in the same place, feeling like we’re always fighting an uphill battle. It’s time to stop and take a breath and believe that it’s all going to work out how it was supposed to, but you have to believe that. You have to love yourself enough so that when things get tough, you know that everything will turn out just fine because of your own self-love and belief in yourself.
Guys, this is a powerful interview because it is full of so many words of wisdom from our special guest, Derek Hough. Listen to the full episode for more, and don’t forget to share it with your friends or someone whom you think needs to hear it. You could change someone’s life today.
To conclude this episode, I asked Derek for his definition of greatness.
“The definition of greatness for me is … serving others. … To be truly great is to lift others [up] … in a career, in a relationship, and your family. … I feel the most great or the most aligned with myself is when I’m helping somebody … [or] serving in some way. And by the way, it doesn’t have to be a huge gesture. It could be a small gesture just like listening to somebody. That would be my definition of greatness.” – Derek Hough
It’s easy to think that greatness is about getting ahead or achieving more than others. But what if the greatest of us are those who give everything they have, without any expectation of reward? What if the greatest of us are those who serve others with joy and dedication? The only thing we need to do to be truly great is to lift others up — our families, friends, neighbors, classmates, and everyone around us.
Thank you so much for joining me today. Now I want to remind you — if no one’s told you lately, you are loved, you are worthy, and you matter! So go out there and do something great.