Why perfectionism doesn’t make you perfect

By Duane Krip

One day, her body finally gave out. It was tired. And so was she. Before that, overachieving was simply part of her personality. It was who she was and nothing was going to change that. In university she took all the hardest classes, reading every assignment page-for-page, and always getting her homework done on time. She worked three part-time jobs, played sports, kept her apartment clean, cooked and somehow managed to have a relationship and friends. It wasn’t something she had to think about, it was just something she did.
This superlative work ethic carried on into her career…. then, she got sick!
Beyond the medical diagnosis lay the real root for her issues. She suffered from perfectionism. 

Perfectionism comes in many forms. For some people, it is feeling like failing isn’t an option, no matter what the cost. For others, it is believing that you can and should take on the world entirely by yourself, no matter how hard it gets. Sometimes it is driven by the fear of making a mistake or not being good at something. And often, it is masking one’s fear of being exposed.
Being a perfectionist is different from caring about having a professionally-finished product.

Perfectionism is a behaviour pattern that is caused by negative beliefs such as, “If I make a mistake or fail I will be rejected,” “I’m not good enough,” “What makes me good enough is doing things perfectly,” and “Mistakes and failures are bad.”

Working hard to put out something you are proud of is a positive thing. Doing it out of fear isn’t.
Many people think that their perfectionism drives their good work. However, I have found the opposite to be true. Perfectionism tends to cripple our creative potential, prevent us from taking risks and trying new things, and keep us stuck. Most importantly, it causes unnecessary stress, which eats up most of our energy.

Doing well in school served her well. But, being bedridden didn’t. Once she eliminated the beliefs that were underlying her perfectionism, she didn’t stop producing good results. She continues to be successful in her career, and gets done everything that needs to get done. The only difference was that she doesn’t think her worth and value is dependent upon how successful or perfect she was. She is no longer afraid of making mistakes and isn’t stressed out all the time…..and she has extra energy to fuel her passion.
Your passion and potential should be fuelled by confidence and determination, not by a fear of making mistakes.
Michael Jordan said, “I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I have failed over and over again in my life; and that is why I succeed.” Thomas Edison said after inventing the light bulb, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Perfectionism doesn’t serve us. It debilitates us. Finding and eliminating the underlying beliefs doesn’t make us less productive, it opens up the space for us to become our own Michael Jordan and Thomas Edison.

Have a great week!

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