In this second post about barriers to your success, I want to address perfectionism.
Years ago, some friends of mine and I were hanging a border on a bulletin board at church. They were on the stools with their hands above their heads doing the hanging. I was standing back doing the eye-balling.
I’d say, “Up a little more on the right. Over to the left just a hair. No that’s too much. Now go back down on the right. Shift it a little more.” And on and on. At one point both of my friends looked at me with blank stares that said, “Enough already.”
I think it was then that I realized, I like things to be perfect. I can spend way too long on the tiniest detail just to make it perfect. (that frustrates me about myself) Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with wanting things to be perfect. Society needs us. The whole world would be off kilter without us. But when the desire for perfection has a negative affect… it’s time to rethink your approach.
I’ve worked on projects that should take 2 hours but take 2 weeks. (or more) I get lost in tiny little details that I want to be perfect that don’t even matter. (did I say that frustrates me?) What a time waster. Here’s the thing…
Sometimes, if you wait until the details are perfect, your situation is perfect, the conditions are perfect and everything around you is perfect you won’t move from where you are to where you want to be.
I’ve worked on projects that I couldn’t get perfect. Got frustrated. And scrapped the project.
My experience with trying to make everything perfect resulted in wasted time, wasted energy and, I think I mentioned… frustration. Why? Because I’m really bad at being perfect. I wouldn’t even call myself a perfectionist because I’m so bad at it.
But, thankfully, I found a better approach that has helped me to move forward and get things done. If you find yourself getting bogged down by perfecting details try this…
Let go of perfectionism.
Trying to be perfect is too much pressure. On everybody. Perfectionism is actually a very self-centered thing. (sorry – but it’s true) By trying to make the border on the bulletin board perfect, I had more concern for what something looked like than the fact that my friends were standing in an uncomfortable position with the blood draining out of their hands. That half a centimeter wasn’t going to make a difference.
Perfectionism cares more about the product than people. Read that again.
When striving for perfection comes before people or stops you from moving forward, it’s time to find a better way to get the results you want. Try this…
Strive for excellence.
Rather than striving to be perfect. Strive to be excellent. The word “ excellence” doesn’t have the same pressure the word “perfect” does. Yet, it’s challenging enough to know there’s something expected of you. Excellence means you work hard and give it your best until you have results you can be proud of. Excellence. Challenging but less pressure.
It takes a shift in your thinking to allow yourself to move forward with something even though it isn’t perfect. But I truly believe that if you can focus on the big picture, work hard and give it your best, you can have results you can be proud of without the paralyzing pressure of trying to be perfect.
Question: How has striving for perfection been a barrier to your success?