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Does perfectionism help you?

Does perfectionism help you? It’s fine to do something to the best of your ability, but at what cost to your well-being and efficiency?

Do you have to be a perfectionist to be successful? Not necessarily. How many perfectionists try to be “too perfect” and fail to finish what they start? How many don’t start at all? There’s no evidence that perfectionists are more successful than their non-perfectionist counterparts. Given similar levels of talent, skill, or intellect, perfectionists perform less successfully than non-perfectionists because they try to obtain something that’s impossible to obtain.

Are you an “all-or-nothing” thinker? Do you see events and experiences as either good or bad, perfect or imperfect, with nothing in between? Do you believe that a superb performance must be produced every time? Do you believe that if you can’t do something perfectly, it’s not worth doing?

I’m guilty of all of the above! I’ve learned that this kind of thinking doesn’t serve me. When I try to follow an “I’ll keep trying until it’s perfect” credo, I’ve suffered bouts of depression, writer’s block, and general unhappiness.

Being the highly sensitive perfectionist that I am, I have an enormous desire to please others and to be the very best I can. This is a positive characteristic unless this desire becomes obsessive.

Perfectionists are often driven by low self-esteem, so their own needs ultimately blind them to the needs and wishes of others. This is a definite roadblock for accomplishment. Your social and business success depends on serving and meeting the needs of others, but not at the expense of your own personal needs and values.

There is no such thing as “perfect human”. Many of our greatest achievements are accomplished while striving to perfect ourselves. Great achievers want to be and do better, unlike perfectionists, who aren’t willing to make mistakes and risk failure. Great achievers know that mistakes, failure, and general imperfection are part of the reality of being human.

Does perfectionism help you? It can if used properly. I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Debra

    Cliff you just described me. I am a perfectionist and believe
    In doing things properly or not at all. I’m a caregiver for two
    Handicapped ladies. One of them is a hard nosed person.
    Hard to get along with at times. I’m a perfectionist and she expectes
    Me to be even more perfect. I get so frustrated and beat myself up
    If she isn’t sitting in her chair properly. I can go on but I won’t.
    And yes I have poor self esteem. I take all criticism to heart.

    1. Cliff

      Hi Debra,

      Don’t be so hard on yourself! Awareness that your perfectionism is hurting you will help you not be so perfect. Does this make sense?

      Don’t expect others to be perfect either. Accept people the way they are and not the way you want them to be. This will definitely lighten your stress load.

      About the self-esteem part…Accepting yourself as a good and capable person will do wonders about how you feel about yourself. The better you feel about yourself, the better others will treat you. An added bonus is that the better you feel about yourself, outside criticism won’t bother you.

      Have patience, gaining greater self-esteem is a lifetime process.

      Happy Holidays!

      Best Regards,

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