Being A Perfectionist – What Is The Cost?

Being a perfectionist could be costing you greatly in your happiness and success

This post was original to my former blog site Avid Seed. Posted on August 22, 2011 as Perfectionism vs. Excellence: The Road to Greatness.

“Our beauty lies within the messiness of our struggle and our perceived failures. Therein lies our strength as we overcome.” – Jen Kelchner
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The Perfectionist Attitude Could Be Costing You Greatness

Has someone ever accused you of being a perfectionist and it rubbed you the wrong way?  I mean it irritated you because if it was true then what did that say about you? It’s exactly how I felt the first time someone said it to me.  I immediately cringed. In my mind being a perfectionist meant I was seriously uptight and probably a bit off.  That’s not me!!  (Well, the a bit off part may be true.)

So I did some investigating into the difference between perfectionism and excellence and found out there is a big difference!

Perfectionism vs. Excellence

What are some of the characteristics of the two?  I recently came across this from an anonymous author that helps to explain it.

Perfection is being right.  Excellence is being willing to be wrong.

Perfection is fear.   Excellence is taking a risk.

Perfection is anger and frustration.   Excellence is powerful.

Perfection is control.   Excellence is spontaneous.

Perfection is judgement.  Excellence is accepting.

Perfection is taking.   Excellence is giving.

Perfection is doubt.  Excellence is confidence.

Perfection is pressure.  Excellence is natural.

Perfection is the destination.  Excellence is the journey.

-author unknown

Black and White

Perfectionism is black and white. Anything other is considered failure. That in order to be acceptable or valued one must be perfect. It is a lot of pressure and is directly tied to self-esteem.

Here is the thing though, who decides what is “perfect”? You are relying on someone elses perspectives, experiences and values to determine what is perfect and acceptable for YOU. Where is the logic in that?

It is an unhealthy approach to striving to do well.

Goal of Excellence

Pursuing excellence is a much healthier option to perfectionism. It is a pursuit of achieving or excelling at a high level but without the demands that perfectionism places on you. You determine the goal, the path and the outcome. It doesn’t require you to seek your self-value and worth from it either.

You instead exhibit character traits like the following:

process oriented vs. outcome oriented

value yourself over valuing achievement

set achievable goals instead of unreasonable demands

assess mistakes instead of criticizing failures

receive internal satisfaction over external recognition

you risk failure because of possibilities instead of avoiding failure and disappointment

you see others as partners with you not competition

you have patience to reach goals instead of a demanding perspective of failure

you find enjoyment and satisfaction in pursuing your goals rather than being dissatisfied and unhappy

If you want to achieve your goals in life and find greatness, you must stop the self-sabotage of perfectionism and embrace excellence.  I personally eliminated a ton of stress from my life when I did this and embraced excellence as my driver.  My confidence soared, stress dropped and my perspectives on everything did a 180*.

Where do you sit on this?  Share in the comments feed your vantage point and struggle with perfectionism.



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