Be Excellent, Not Perfect

Perfection is viewed as a noble attainment. But trying to attain perfection can cause the perfectionist to be critical of oneself and others—and a pain to live with! In addition, perfectionism can create stress, counteract efficiency, and sink morale for everyone who deals with the perfectionist.

A productive mind-set is excellence; meeting the highest standards agreed upon for oneself or by the group.

Perfectionists are:

  • Critical
  • Overwhelmed
  • Unable to see the big picture
  • Stressed-out and anxious
  • Rarely able to enjoy their accomplishments.

The person concentrating on excellence, however, focuses on:

  • Continued personal and professional growth
  • Job satisfaction and customer service
  • Clear and reasonable expectations
  • A strong sense of accomplishment

Going from perfectionism to pursuit of excellence

Get real. When you find yourself becoming frantic about a goal that you have to meet, stop and ask, “Is the frustration level equal to the problem?”

Set clear expectations. If you know what’s expected of you, you can better track your progress and draw “perfection” boundaries when needed, which will signal you to stop stalling and move forward with the project.

Identify your triggers. Identify and recognize the factors that lead or contribute to your perfectionist thinking and behaviors—and avoid them.

Get some coaching. The outside perspective of someone trained in helping others reach more balanced expectations can be of benefit.

Delegate. Many perfectionists are overwhelmed, thinking that they—and only they—can complete the task at hand. Allow others to be responsible, which will increase the odds that the group will more easily reach excellence.

Know what’s important. Ask yourself or the group members, “What’s most important about this project?” Talking openly, then narrowing to key points and agreements, allows everyone to measure his or her performance and outcomes using the same gauge.