29 January,2019 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
“Done is better than Perfect.” It distresses to hear when people use the phrase, "I'm a bit of a perfectionist" as a reply to the classic interview question about strengths. Thanks to work in the field of psychology and the writings of popular authors like Brene' Brown, most of us now realize that the burning need to be perfect all the time can be destructive. While striving for perfection seems to be a laudable goal, in reality, perfectionism gets out of control very quickly and can have some awful results.
Just hearing "nobody's perfect" or "we all make mistakes" is not enough to reset the perfectionist's brain. We already know, on an intellectual level, that mistakes are a normal part of life and absolute perfection is impossible. Yet, that doesn't change how we feel. Perfection holds the promise of acceptance, respect, and even love in the mind of the perfectionist. It's going to take more than a slogan to shift this kind of thinking.
Moving away from perfectionism does not mean that we settle for sloppy, sub-standard and poor quality work as the norm. You do not have to give up your (reasonable) high standards. Progress requires trial and error, and the willingness to be wrong. Staying in your safe zone to avoid mistakes is going to severely limit your opportunities. However, totally abandoning any expectation of superior quality work can have the same career stalling impact.
The real effort that results in excellence is still a commendable way to live. The key to recovering from perfectionism problems is to learn to accept mistakes as natural and neutral, then and only then can you advance to learning from them and even valuing their existence.