Q: Why are you interested in embracing courage over perfectionism?
Perfectionism is overrated and tiring. I don’t know how I became a perfectionist but it was an exhausting habit and one I’m glad I’ve been able to ease away from. When I got real about accepting who I am… the good, the bad, the flaws and all, that was when I realized that it’s ok to just be me and not be perfect. I embrace and love that feeling of courage.
We all have courage in us and are motivated for different reasons, beliefs, and ideals. I find I’m more inclined to be courageous when it comes to communication because I feel that if we can talk about the facts and the emotions of things, then we can begin to understand each other and our needs. I embrace courage over perfectionism!
Q: What do you think the obstacles are that prevent women, in particular, from embracing courage over perfectionism?
There’s a lot of pressure within society and within our culture for women to be a certain way – perfect is one of them. Most magazine covers have airbrushed women on them and they often look perfect. There’s a standard that has been created that many people, including myself, have bought into by an industry that wants to stay in business so they continue to perpetuate that norm. It’s a weird vicious cycle. It benefits big business and degrades the image we have of what we should/could/would be.
What I love about 2021 is that many people are frustrated by the status quo and they are breaking down and modifying and redefining a lot of these norms. From the way people talk and dress, to the way people think and act. I love that the current message is often that there are many versions or ways of being, not just one. A woman can be many things and perfect doesn’t have to be one of them. I love seeing images and representations of courageous women. It’s empowering and is a very new thing in my lifetime. I don’t recall having so many courageous women doing so many amazing things all at the same time. I find that I am simultaneously intimidated, inspired, awed, and encouraged by it. It’s very exciting.
Q: What have you found helps women overcome those obstacles and find their courage?
My experience leading the women’s group at Hyundai taught me that there are a number of ways to overcome these obstacles. Having role models that represent someone much like themselves helps a lot. It’s also about women having opportunities to have a voice, which requires others (men and women alike) to support by listening and encouraging those women who many not normally speak up to have and use that voice. I would also say it helps to create opportunities for women to work on projects together, to hear each other’s voices, see each other, and support and be supported by each other. These three things were magical in creating strong and lasting bonds and a sense of camaraderie within our women’s group.
Q: If you were to share one story about a time in which you were challenged to embrace courage over perfectionism, what would it be?
There was a time I was driving down the 55 freeway (5 or 6 lanes in each direction) going about 45 mph and there were many, many cars around me. A motorcyclist was in the carpool lane next to me. There was a car in front of him and no exit from the carpool lane. At the same time that he had started to try to pass that car in front of him, the car decided to exit and didn’t see the motorcyclist. The car’s rear passenger side hit the front wheel of his motorcycle. The motorcycle was instantly on its side moving fast with sparks flying and the rider was rolling to an abrupt stop right in front of my car. I stepped on the brakes – hard. I couldn’t believe it. All the cars behind me must have seen it too and because they were all stopping quickly too. The rider was 10 inches from my front grill. I threw it in park and jumped out. I didn’t care what was right or perfect at that moment.
He was hurt, laying in front of my car, and in danger of having someone else hit my car, which would have hit him too. I got him up and in the car quickly. He had a really big cut on his palm and was likely going to be bruised all over his body. He was very lucky. I drove him to the side of the road while two other motorists picked up his very messed up bike to move it off the freeway.
At that point, there were hundreds of cars now lined up on the freeway behind all of this. The police officer who took the report told me that what I did was an exception and that most people don’t ever try to help. I’m not going for the normal or for perfection. And, I didn’t care what anyone thought. It was the right thing to do. I couldn’t imagine being in that rider’s situation. My husband’s favorite part of the story is my shock in seeing that this rider wasn’t wearing any gloves brought out the maternal instinct in me. While driving this guy to the side of the road, he also got an ear full about how dumb it not to have gloves on. Ha ha. I hope he bought a pair of gloves that week.
Q: As someone who works in the world of customer feedback, how do you think customers think about this issue? In other words, recognizing that everyone and every business makes mistakes, do you think they are more forgiving when we are honest about them?
My personal feeling and believe is that there’s way more upside to being honest. As someone who works in customer feedback at Hyundai, I read verbatim responses from our Hyundai owners regularly. It’s hard for me to put into words the feelings I have when I read the responses. It’s probably a combination of relief, understanding, reassurance, surprise, and delight – all at the same time.
Regarding mistakes, owners often indicate that if the situation is explained to them by an employee who is transparent about what’s happening and that person provides options, that it’s something they can forgive. I believe that people are more forgiving when we’re honest. When we make mistakes, which is totally human, it’s about the recovery and the application of learning.
Tiffany Stroupe is Senior Group Manager, Customer Feedback at Hyundai Motor North America. Her career expertise has largely focused on the Customer Experience and ranges from strategy, planning, and operations, to marketing and market research.