Rev Martin L. Dunne On How To Get Past Your Perfectionism And ‘Just Do It’
An Interview With Tyler Gallagher
Be open to feedback from others. This may be the most challenging step because it implies you’re not, “perfect.” But this feedback my be what will take you through the finish line at being your best!
Many successful people are perfectionists. At the same time, they have the ability to say “Done is Better Than Perfect” and just complete and wrap up a project. What is the best way to overcome the stalling and procrastination that perfectionism causes? How does one overcome the fear of potential critique or the fear of not being successful? In this interview series, called How To Get Past Your Perfectionism And ‘Just Do It’, we are interviewing successful leaders who can share stories and lessons from their experience about “how to overcome the hesitation caused by perfectionism.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rev. Martin L. Dunne III.
Rev. Martin L. Dunne III, author of What Could a Priest Know About Marriage?, is an ordained minister for a very large church and parochial grade school in Boca Raton, Florida. Prior to seminary where he obtained a Master’s Degree in Divinity (which incorporated several graduate-level courses focused on God), he spent a decade working in the, “real world.” Those experiences included completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting with CPA as well as large commercial and non-profit business management. These experiences were complimented by his firsthand relationships with God and others, along with years of ministering to others from many walks of life about their own relationship with God. All of this has resulted in a unique perspective on just how deeply God wants all to have the best life possible!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was always told that if I, “tried my best” that would be enough for me to hold my head up high. Nevertheless, so many external factors (society, others, peer-pressures, misunderstandings) seem to scream the message that “anything less than perfection is abject failure.” Ever since there has been this struggle to trust that your best, in a way, is better than “perfect.”
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Luck favors the prepared.” There is only so much that can be done and only so much within our control, but putting the best effort in the limited time we have can be a priceless consolation, even, and especially, when nothing good seems to come from our efforts. The only thing within our control is how to respond to what is beyond our control (which is honestly everything else). But if you know you did your best you have nothing to feel bad about, even if other people feel differently.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The Bible. It drives home the fact that while we’re not in control, we can be on the side of the One who is. The Bible says 365 times (once for each day of the year): “Be not afraid.”
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- “Leaving nothing off the table:” If you truly believe in something, you’ll hold nothing back. I did that to enter the seminary. I held nothing back and for that I’ve been given a richness 100x more than what I “gave up.”
- “Work as if everything depends on you; pray as if everything depends on God.” Every time I knew I gave it my all, God was allowed to take care of everything else.
- “The worst things to happen can be the best things to happen:” The most painful experiences of my life became the opportunities to learn and handle things better the next time around.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Let’s begin with a definition of terms so that each of us and our readers are on the same page. What exactly is a perfectionist? Can you explain?
A perfectionist thinks everything is within their control, and anything less than having that control on every level will be ruinous on everything.
The premise of this interview series is making the assumption that being a perfectionist is not a positive thing. But presumably, seeking perfection can’t be entirely bad. What are the positive aspects of being a perfectionist? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean?
Again, regardless of who you are, I believe everyone is meant to be the best. The best that they can be. That’s a whole spectrum of outcomes. When you are striving to be your best, you can enjoy the priceless peace of knowing you were your best — even if nothing seems to work out.
What are the negative aspects of being a perfectionist? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean?
Perfectionism can be an idol. It can derail everything else if you get swept away from being upset over a tiny detail not going your way. Perhaps even more tragically, perfectionism can prevent you from enjoying all the blessings around you that are in your favor — that are working out!
From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common reasons that cause a perfectionist to “get stuck” and not move forward? Can you explain?
Perfectionism can be paralyzing, in that you may procrastinate on something that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, but you hold off because you want to give the project enough time to get it, “just right.”
Here is the central question of our discussion. What are the five things a perfectionist needs to know to get past their perfectionism and “just do it?”
- Take a sculptor’s approach (I did with this interview lol). Approach what you need to do as soon as you can and make it as nice as you can with the limited time you have. If you have time to return to it you can chisel, refine and polish. That’s how I write everything, from a small article to a large book. Start with the macro, micros are luxuries that accentuate the macro.
- Organize everything into four categories. 1) High importance/High Urgency; 2) High importance/Low Urgency; 3) Low Importance/High Urgency 4) Low Importance/Low Urgency. Deciding “what goes where” will often change throughout each day, but at least you will know what needs immediate attention, or no attention at all.
- “Touch it once. Touch it right. Move on!” There is nothing more inefficient than being sloppy, as not only does something still have to be done, but now you also have to undo all of the damage caused by the sloppiness.
- Be open to feedback from others. This may be the most challenging step because it implies you’re not, “perfect.” But this feedback my be what will take you through the finish line at being your best!
- Review at the end of each day what you did right (right before you go to bed), what could have been done better, and how to do it better next go-around. Approached the right way this will give you a peace which will give you enthusiasm to become better the next day…it certainly has for me!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
The “listen to your gut” Movement! Everything else you decide to do should be subordinate to it…it’s the best compass to ascertain if you are going in the right direction!
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Queen Elizabeth II. She has been a central part of history for nearly a century, but still kicking, still smiling. If anyone knows how to handle a challenge, it’s her!
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!