I’ve coached a few perfectionists over the years.
Okay, more than a few.
Many of them think it’s what’s responsible for their success and what got them to where they are.
And they’re not wrong, but they’re not entirely right either.
They think perfectionism is simply an adherence to high standards when perfectionism is often unrealistic expectations born of an idealistic viewpoint to mask a deep-seated fear of public failure.
It’s a badge to keep you safe where you are – out of risk or harm’s way – while showing everyone you’re the least likely to fuck up. By signing off on everything, having your hands in everything, and getting a say in everything, perfectionism won’t let you make a mistake.
But it’s what keeps you ruminating, checking things over and over, and procrastinating on sending that email out, releasing the product, or making a pitch until you magically think it’s perfect (which it will never be). It’s what keeps you from delegating out, from trusting others to do a good job, from letting go of micromanaging and taking a step back.
It keeps you in a loop that isn’t moving you forward, and I would argue that any success you have had is in spite of those tendencies not because of them.
I’m not asking you to chuck out your high standards. I stand behind doing excellent work, always, but take a minute and consider that perfectionism might not be about the attainment of some ultimate success, but more so the avoidance of any sort of failure.
And if you’re not letting go and trying new things, risking your neck, and exposing yourself to missteps, your team, the wider company, everyone that you’re meant to impact as a whole – won’t get to see you rise into your rightful place as a leader.
Letting go of perfectionism is the only way to get there.