Yesterday I taught a class for a group of executives based on the book Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith. Marshall is one of the leading executive coaches in the world and he has a few books out that are great if you want to improve yourself.
We started class with this quote:
“Fate is the hand of cards we’ve been dealt. Choice is how we play the hand”.
I know a few people dealing with the “cards” they were dealt not allowing them to move forward. Perfection often comes into play, because they weren’t trained effectively on how to deal with adversity. Depending on your personality type, striving for perfection can cripple you from making any progress because perfection is unrealistic.
“Perfection is the Enemy of Progress”
Striving for excellence is way different that perfection. With perfection, enough is never enough. Excellence is attainable and you can feel and appreciate that accomplishment. When my I work with team members or do life planning for individuals, we talk about things that can start their progress toward a goal, take small steps and a series of wins. I like having big goals, but like everyone, I must have realistic long term goals and be very clear on them. The path becomes clearer when the goal is clear, but the path is never a straight line. When perfectionism comes into play, you usually can’t see an absolute path to a goal and that stops progress dead in its tracks.
Some downfalls of perfectionism or perfectionism traits that we all should be aware of are:
- Not Allowing Ambiguity – if you need absolutes today, you are in trouble. Things are moving way to fast from a technology, information, and automation standpoint. You must allow ambiguity and grace along the way to figure things out.
- Negative Impact of Others – if others around you see you are striving for perfection, they will be fearful of rejection and your wrath. Be careful.
- Risk of Failure – There is always risk of failure but we live life forward and learn it backwards. Make mistakes, but not the same mistakes.
- Limits Ability to Ask for Help – normally perfectionist want to do it all on their own. We can’t know everything now a days and we should be expected to.
- Procrastination – This is probably the biggest downfall; you never start because the path isn’t clear. Just Start, Review, Adjust, Review, Adjust and so on. Just make sure you have some guardrails around you so you don’t drive off a cliff.
There is a lot of stress associated with perfectionism which can be associated with health issues along with many other problems in your life. Learning to strive for great or excellence is a good thing just keep your priorities in mind, your mission in front of you, and your legacy in your heart to be ok with progress vs. perfection.
Do some honest self-reflection.
- Be real with yourself – Are you a perfectionist?
- Do you over analyze things and really never start them?
- Are you ok with ambiguity to a point it stops you from starting?
- Are the people around you afraid to be honest with you about issues or problems they are experiencing?
- How afraid of failure are you? Does it stop you from taking risks?
- If any of those questions trouble you, it might be time to set some solid goals with realistic target dates using my goals template.
- If you are unclear of your purpose or why, it could be pushing you into perfectionism mode and not big picture mode for you/your life. You need to do a life plan, start on your own with this DIY Life Plan workbook.
Good Luck, Know Yourself, and Make a positive difference to the people you can influence and impact.