Perfectionism: I’m Not Perfect!
Sure, we all laugh and acknowledge when someone declares, "I’m not perfect!" Yet, in a different breath, many of us chase perfection relentlessly in ourselves or expect it unjustly from others. But here's the truth: striving for perfection goes against our very human nature. So why do we invest so much energy in its pursuit? Read on and take the perfection quiz at the end.
Find yourself delaying tasks?
Praise your perfectionism for keeping you sharp?
Initiate tasks but struggle to finish them?
Constantly replay (ruminate) situations that didn’t go well?
Fear making mistakes intensely?
If You Do…
If you do, you might have some perfectionistic tendencies. Those I work with often lose sleep, pondering over minutiae. Others bring work home mentally, consumed by thoughts, disconnecting from family—especially children, who yearn for their attention and play. This constant rumination keeps you from being present.
Other tendencies include delayed decision-making, leaving others questioning your leadership (often observed in corporate executives). Projects are discussed but left dormant or started but left incomplete.
The (big) Cost
Internally, it's draining. Mentally tracking these ‘open’ items consumes energy, not to mention the critical self-talk that erodes self-confidence. Shutting down in the evenings becomes routine—a desperate cry for mental rest.
Externally, it impacts relationships. Tasks requested by superiors get stalled, straining relationships. Staff get frustrated when their input stalls at the executive bottleneck. If it's a one-time occurrence, no biggie. But when it repeats, it builds a reputation: overwhelmed appearance, a leadership presence in question, and a hint of withdrawal. Employees start doubting their leader's confidence in them.
The Cost in Personal Circles
Among friends and family, there’s a shift—a subtle withdrawal. They stop asking or form an opinion that you won’t follow through, based on a patchy track record of completing commitments. The prolonged consequence? Trust dissipates, reliance fades. Your words, once weighty, now carry no assurance.
Where I Guide Them
We start with: How can you maintain high-quality work without the perfectionist burden? That's the first door we open. Often, we learned this behavior somewhere, and it once served us well—focused our attention, fueled our drive, and secured achievements. Consider it an outdated tool, effective in its time but less so today. I approach it like this: "You'll keep it, but let’s update it—retain what works and shed what no longer serves you."
Imagine shifting the framework to embrace high-quality work without the weight of perfection—that's the invitation. I know many of you reading this are thinking, "No, that’s my edge."
But here’s the point: maintaining that edge comes at a cost. There are more effective ways that leave you feeling lighter and more peaceful at day’s end. Productivity and high-quality work can come from a healthier place.
Addressing perfectionism as a body of work often requires regular coaching sessions for progress assessment and discussing challenges. Here, we celebrate successes and adapt coaching strategies to the client’s needs. Feedback loops allow reflection, identifying areas for growth, and adapting strategies to overcome perfectionism.
Take the Perfection Quiz
Answer the following questions with "Yes" or "No":
1. Do you often find it difficult to complete tasks because you worry, they won't be perfect?
2. Are you overly critical of yourself, even for small mistakes?
3. Do you frequently procrastinate on tasks because you fear not meeting your high standards?
4. Do you have a strong desire for others' approval and validation of your work?
5. Are you often concerned about how others perceive your performance or achievements?
6. Do you set exceptionally high standards for yourself that are hard to achieve?
7. Do you experience stress or anxiety when you make mistakes or don't meet your expectations?
8. Do you avoid delegating tasks to others because you believe they won't meet your standards?
9. Are you more focused on the end result of a task than the process of completing it?
10. Do you often feel a deep sense of shame or inadequacy when you fall short of your goals?
- For every "Yes" response, assign 1 point.
- The higher your score, the more likely you exhibit perfectionistic tendencies.
- 0-3 points: Low likelihood of perfectionism.
- 4-6 points: Moderate signs of perfectionism.
- 7-10 points: Strong indications of perfectionistic tendencies.
Remember, this quiz provides a general insight and should not serve as a diagnostic tool. If you suspect perfectionism is affecting your well-being, daily life, or relationships consider executive life coaching. Contact David using the Let’s Chat form at legacylifeconsulting.com and plan a conversation to see if coaching is right for you.