Are You Living Authentically? How Gifted Leaders Can Overcome Expectations and Perfectionism.


Being labeled as gifted can mean many things. To some it is being intuitive, empathic, highly-sensitive, having strong coping mechanisms, having specific gifts, and to others, it could be a label that infers a higher than average intelligence. Above all, the label of giftedness it is typically attached to societal expectations. For a child or adolescent who is labeled as gifted, there is typically an expectation or push them to do better and achieve more. For an adult who may be labeled as gifted or advanced, the expectations of doing more, being more, having more, and achieving more with regards to social/economic status can also affect one’s self-worth, self-esteem, and/or personal growth. This also increases the expectations of perfectionism and this may affect one’s authenticity and honoring one’s authentic or true self. This is because there may be fear related to letting one’s true self show for fear that the expectations or perfectionism standard that has been set may not be met by one’s true identity.


Therefore, those who are gifted, may experience a push towards perfectionism or towards conforming to social norms which may not always feel authentic. To add to that further, we live in a society where the greater populations looks up to those who most fit in with current norms. Standing out and being different may be an expectation that may not be met in a traditional sense. Although, there are greater initiatives towards diversity in general giftedness and those with special gifts do not always meet the traditional criteria of diversity and could be labeled as different or weird. Yet despite the labels there is a strong pull towards being authentic that rings true. This is because being authentic and being who you are is important in utilizing your giftedness.

You have a choice

Also, with this there is always the “choice” to live authentically, according to your own rules despite the expectations of others. Perfectionism can be expectation driving or self-induced. In either case, there is always a choice for change. Choice is the key ingredient to living beyond the societally induced expectations.

According to author Brene Brown, who is well known as a shame and vulnerability researcher, “Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.

Another quote to illustrate perfectionism and expectations comes from Michael Law…

“At its root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success.” ― Michael Law

This confirms that perfectionism and expectations are driven from social foundations; whereas identity and authenticity are drives from within and to spark one’s differences among a sea of similarities. More than anything, getting to know one’s true identity and living authentically is the way to know whether you are living according to someone else’s expectations of social norms or perfectionism, or your own. Also, while there are many who seek being a copy of others, there is sometimes an even bigger push from within to “be you” and be authentic. This is because each of us is living in this world with a special set of gifts, an individual purpose and in our own ways we create a ripple effect.


As I child, I was expected to make straight A’s, to be at the top of the class, and maintain a social calendar. My siblings were encouraged to do their best, yet I was always expected to do better and it was clear that I was always held to a higher standard. As an adult I have held myself to a higher standard and placed the pressure of perfectionism on myself as the expectations carried over. Over time I realized that being “good” is enough and perfectionism is related more to the opinions of others than of myself. With that, I’ve also found more of my core being, who I am and how I want to live my life. Living up to others expectations is exhausting and it ultimately leads to living an unauthentic life.

Therefore, following the beat to one’s own drum rings true in order to live authentically and in finding or living one’s life purpose or goals. However, for some it takes a while to realize who they are and that being an original is much better than being a copy. Also being authentic is a way to outgrow the norms which requires not succumbing to the greater expectations that can be placed on the gifted by others.

So, you can be perfectly gifted just by being you and by embracing who you are through authenticity. Some ways to avoid expectations and perfectionism are to be mindful of the driving force behind the need to meet the expectations or the drive toward perfectionism. Just as the quote by Michael Law above states, many people experience the fear of not measuring up. How can you approach perfectionism and expectations while maintaining authenticity?  Here’s a few tips:

How to live authentically:

  1. Recognize who the driving force is behind the standards, expectations and perfectionism.
  2. Accept and love who you are as you are – this includes your giftedness (gifts and strengths).
  3. Follow your feelings and emotions and do what feels right.
  4. Avoid comparing yourself to others. Instead focus on putting your own spin on things using your own gifts and strengths.
  5. Find others who love you just as you are and befriend others who are living authentically and support you in doing the same.
  6. Shine your light and be the best YOU that you can be.
  7. Take charge of your choices and take back the power of the driving force in your decisions.
  8. Always remember to carry your joy with you in everything you do and have fun being you.

You can find Kristin on her website at or on Facebook at

Want to find out more about how you’re wired?  Take the Spark Test, an short individualized quiz that will help you better understand what lights your fire and how to live more authentically. You can start take if for free, right here.


2 Comments on Are You Living Authentically? How Gifted Leaders Can Overcome Expectations and Perfectionism.

    March 31, 2015 at 12:56 pm (8 years ago)

    Perfectionism is fascinating, isn’t it. Your distinction between perfectionism and excellence is well made.

  2. Kristin Lloyd-Moussa
    Kristin Lloyd-Moussa
    April 1, 2015 at 6:33 am (8 years ago)

    Thank you for your comment, Elaine! I agree that perfectionism is very fascinating and can sometimes stop us in our tracks if we let it. When we are able to break free from such ideals, we are able to love our imperfect selves, perfectly. <3


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