What happens when you lament over every single detail of your work? What happens when you endlessly rearrange, redesign or readjust the final product or result? What happens when you mull over your choices to the point of exhaustion?
Nothing. That’s what happens. A big, fat zero.
Well, a big fat zero for you. In the meantime, the world is moving on around you and progress is being made in other places. When you finally decide everything is “perfect” (an illusion, by the way), someone else has come along and taken the lead in the way you wanted to, suggested that idea you thought of or moved up to that position you longed for.
This was the main idea I took away from a recent course run by business speaker Dale Beaumont, which has now become my mantra: “Progress is better than perfection”.
More often than not we unconsciously use perfectionism as an excuse to stop ourselves from taking the next step forward.
Why would we do that to ourselves? Isn’t success the one thing that we’re working for? Isn’t being seen, heard and noticed what we’re living and breathing for in our businesses?
Many of us choose to stay hidden because we’re absolutely terrified of the one thing that we actually want. After all, if we do “make it”, what’s next?
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It feels safer to stay behind the barriers and lurk, knowing that we could do something great rather than actually attempting to do it. In this position, we feel comfortable knowing there is potential to achieve, and no one is criticising or condemning us for not achieving.
Often we justify this position by saying, “I’ll just do this one other thing before I take that leap”. In truth, this is actually you saying, “I’m afraid to shine.”
Here’s my gentle nudge: There will be something else great that comes from you being great. And then more greatness. And more greatness still.
But you’ve got to become great first. And great isn’t perfect.
What’s the moral? I’m not going to “Nike” you (Just do it), but what I will say is this: competency does not come from thinking about it. Skills do not come from hours of deliberation. And lessons are not actively learnt by remaining at the start line.
If you’re striving for perfection, it may not come. Being a perfectionist is actually detrimental to your health. Self-acceptance of what you perceive to be your “faults” is much more valuable. Once you have this, you propel yourself forward.
Give yourself permission to scuff your knees and make mistakes. Not everyone will like you, not everyone will appreciate your viewpoint and not everyone will agree with you. But if you get it wrong, learn to be comfortable with that and take on board the lessons to help you move forward. People will respect you for it.
Perfectionism isn’t perfect. It’s exactly the opposite.
Do you let perfectionism get in the way of progress?
“ We unconsciously use perfectionism as an excuse to stop ourselves from taking the next step forward. ”