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Go On, Be A Perfectionist – And Undermine Your Confidence!

Striving for perfection is often thought of as ‘a good thing’. Surely perfectionists have high standards, they keep themselves and everyone else on their toes? They demand the best, which must raise the bar for everyone’s performance.

Sound good, doesn’t it? We need more of these people.

Actually, no, we don’t.

Perfectionists are a pain.

They’re awful to work for, because they’re never satisfied. However much you do, they’ll always expect more. If they do drive up performance, it comes at a price – for themselves and the people around them. They can put people under intolerable pressure and make them feel constantly inadequate.

In fact, perfectionists can actually be very unproductive. They spend far too long on certain tasks and often never complete them because, of course, they’re never satisfied with the result. They’re constantly tinkering with things. So reports or projects never get finished or, if they do, they take much longer than they should.

The quest for perfection is also a great way to undermine confidence, your own and other people’s, because perfectionism has failure built into it. I’ve worked with a lot of people who have lacked self-confidence and it has often stemmed from their own brand of perfectionism.

People who lack confidence find ways to give themselves a hard time. One way of doing this is to measure themselves against impossible standards and then beat themselves up for falling short. They’re what I call pessimistic perfectionists, always demanding perfection from themselves but never really expecting to achieve it.

They only have two standards to judge their own performance – ‘perfect’ or ‘rubbish’. They often think they’ve done something really badly just because they haven’t done it perfectly. Then they keep telling themselves how ‘rubbish’ they are because they can’t achieve the perfection they’re looking for.

Shall I tell you who does achieve perfection? No-one.

That’s right. Shocking, isn’t it? No-one is perfect. No-one gets it absolutely right every time.

In fact, here’s another shocking fact. Perfection doesn’t exist.

Recognising that perfection doesn’t exist doesn’t mean you have to accept mediocrity. You can aim for excellence. You can set yourself high standards and always try to improve your performance in anything you do.

But have a measure of realism. If you’re new to something, you’re not going to be World Champion at your first attempt. If you have to speak in public, for example, and it’s not something you do very often, then don’t judge your efforts by comparing yourself with a professional speaker.  Set some realistic goals and try to make a fair assessment of your performance afterwards.

Look for what you did well and build on that. Accept if something could have been better and plan to improve that next time.

But judging yourself against some idea of perfection is a recipe for constant failure, constant disappointment and constant lack of self-belief.

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Site by: Dawud Miracle, Business Coach & WordPress Websites