The Perils of Perfectionism: A Personal Insight

Today, I’m eager to share my thoughts on a subject that frequently emerges in my coaching sessions. It’s a concept that begins with ‘P’… Yes, you’ve guessed it – Perfectionism!

Stephen Hawking once said, “Perfection simply doesn’t exist… without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.” This profound statement has resonated with me deeply. Perfectionism, if left unchecked, can lead us into what I metaphorically refer to as a ‘Prison’. This isn’t just a solitary confinement but one that can engulf our teams as well. The relentless pursuit of perfection can trap us on a never-ending hamster wheel of tasks, resulting in long hours, burnout, self-doubt, and a significant blow to our confidence. Similarly, teams suffer too – burning out, feeling demotivated and stifled, which could eventually lead to their departure.

The Pareto Principle: Embracing Efficiency

Have you ever heard of the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule? It posits that 80% of outcomes arise from 20% of efforts. In the business context, this suggests that 80% of results stem from 20% of the effort. This insight is pivotal. It underscores that exerting more effort and pushing ourselves to the brink doesn’t necessarily equate to better results. Thus, the mantra I’ve adopted and encourage others to consider is: try different, not harder.

A Personal Challenge: Adapting Over Adhering

I’ve pondered deeply on the notion of perfectionism and how it manifests in our daily lives. I challenge you, as I have myself, to identify one habit or behaviour that epitomises perfectionism. For me, it was about limiting the times I would check a report – doing it just once. The challenge lies in making a conscious change to this one habit or behaviour and observing the outcome. What do you notice? How do you feel?

Reflect on the Root Cause:

Often, the trait of perfectionism is rooted in fear. Identifying this fear is crucial to understanding and overcoming the need for perfection.

In Conclusion: Striving for Progress, Not Perfection

In my recent live session on this topic, which lasted about 30 minutes, I delved deeper into the intricacies of perfectionism and its impacts. The essence of our discussion is encapsulated in this blog, aiming to enlighten and encourage a shift from a perfection-driven to a progress-focused mindset.

Perfectionism is a double-edged sword. While it drives us to excel, it can also ensnare us in a cycle of never-ending dissatisfaction. Embracing the Pareto Principle and challenging ourselves to adapt rather than adhere strictly to our perfectionist tendencies can liberate us. It’s about making progress, feeling fulfilled, and ultimately, leading a more balanced and satisfying life.

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