In this third post about the many manifestations of Perfection Paralysis we are going to look at what I call the ‘Daisy Chain Effect’. In electrical and electronic engineering (stay with me here) a ‘Daisy Chain’ is a wiring scheme in which multiple devices are wired together in sequence or in a ring. At this point you are asking yourself what the hell does this have to do with Perfection Paralysis.
Well I’ll explain why I use this term. The ‘Daisy Chain Effect’ is when an individual wants to do a task, but before they can start that task, they have 10 things that need to happen first. The task they want to do is contingent on the completion of other tasks, and those tasks are usually unpleasant.
For example, I have an amazing client she has lived in her current house for three years. We were exploring why she was not feeling settled in this house and she casually mentioned that she has not hung any pictures or artwork on the walls. So naturally I pursued that comment, because to me hanging pictures makes a house feel more like home. Well it turns out that she was suffering from the ‘Daisy Chain Effect’. Before she could hang any pictures, she needed to paint all the walls, and then the trim would need painting and she has some crown molding in a few rooms that would have to be painted. After she painted the walls she needed to replace the carpet in the hall and two of the rooms, and replacing carpet always dings the trim so that would need to be touched up… the seemingly simple act of hammering a nail into a wall to hang a picture was contingent on several expensive and time consuming tasks. And so, she was stuck.
The ‘Daisy Chain Effect’ can be very challenging to untangle, once we’ve created the chain it is very hard to break it apart to see the individual components. Like the ‘Guilt Gremlins’, when working with a client paralyzed by the ‘Daisy Chain Effect’, I approach it on multiple fronts.
I always start at the task the client wants to accomplish, in this example hanging some pictures on the walls. I start here, because this is where the client’s energy is focused, they have identified it as something that will meet a need. In this example having pictures and artwork on her walls would help my client feel more settled in her home.
Being a coach, I get to ask all sorts exploratory questions, and shine the light of curiosity on a situation. Being outside the situation I can help clients unpick the mental construct that created the ‘Daisy Chain’ in the first place.
Some of the lines of questions I pursue include:
- Is this task contingent on the other tasks being completed? Could you hang pictures on the walls before they are painted?
- What would be the benefit of doing the task, meeting the need, even before all the other tasks were done? Would it help you feel more settled if you had pictures on the walls, even if the carpet and paint and trim are not updated?
- What would it say about you as a person if you did the tasks out of order?
- What is the benefit of delaying the task until all the items in the ‘Daisy Chain’ are completed?
- Using a scale can also be helpful when breaking the ‘Daisy Chain Effect’. Exploring on a scale of 1 – 10 how important is it to hang the pictures, paint the walls, paint the trim, replace the carpets? Using scales can often help us see where our real priorities lay.
- Sometimes tasks are truly contingent on another task, and if that is the case, I’ll work with the client to create an action plan to start working from the beginning. This might include exploring the idea of breaking the project up into multiple smaller projects. Rather than taking on the whole house, could you approach it room by room?
To break the ‘Daisy Chain’ one must be willing to question their thoughts, explore with curiosity and be open to creating new thoughts about these tasks. In the next blog post I’ll explore what I call the ‘Instagram Fallacy.’