Perfectionist? I know your dirty little secret.

If you call yourself a perfectionist, you’re not alone.  I am a recovering perfectionist myself.

Oh, perfectionism has its perks:  high standards and expectations of quality, attention to detail, a striving to always be better.  You’re the go-to person to get things done because people know you’ll get it done right the first time.

As a result, many perfectionists wear this trait as a badge of pride.  I know I did.

The switch got flipped for me when I heard this:

 “If you consider yourself a perfectionist, listen up.  You aren’t really a perfectionist, you’re an imperfectionist.  You don’t go around looking for everything that is right and perfect, you go around looking for the flaws and how things are falling short of your expectations.”  (paraphrasing mine, via T. Harv Eker)

That statement stopped me in my tracks.

After all, I thought of myself as a positive person.  Positive people don’t go around looking for what’s wrong with everything.  And yet it was true.  I did look for flaws and ways things could be improved, mostly in myself but inevitably in others too.  Oh, and things too.  Did you notice that picture is a tad crooked?

It got me to thinking about the dark side of perfectionism, how it might not be so key to my success.  After all, focusing on the negative is the exact opposite of what successful people are supposed to do.

Some of the bad habits that go along with perfectionism:

  • Procrastination and its cousin paralysis by analysis come into effect a lot when everything needs to be just so.  Often guilty as charged.
  • Failure to launch.  Younger me would get so overwhelmed by the all of the grand ideas I had for a project that I would start and stall out or worse, I wouldn’t even try for fear of disappointing someone or fear of it not being good enough.
  • Inability to internalize the ‘attagirl, unless the execution was flawless.  They loved it but I’m still thinking about the font mistake on page 6.   Saying thank you without qualification and owning it is still one of my biggest challenges.

If you’re thinking that this sounds pretty closely related to the impostor syndrome, you’d be right.  According to Ms. Young, perfectionism is one of the coping strategies to help us impostors to avoid being found out.

In my next post, I’ll let you in on some of the strategies I use to get out of my own imperfectionist way.

To your success,
CEO & Founder, Front Room
More than clothes, confidence.™

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One thought on “Perfectionist? I know your dirty little secret.

  1. Pingback: Screw up? Permission granted. | Front Room

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