Why Perfectionism Is The Enemy
In the early stages of starting a business, or starting anything, for that matter, almost nothing goes according to plan. For those of you who’ve ever started anything even a little bit complex, you understand where I’m coming from. You can plan and prepare to your heart’s content, but there are always glitches and stumbling blocks that you have to overcome. As the saying goes, if it were easy, everyone would do it.
This is where perfectionism and perfectionist tendencies come in. What does a perfectionist do when everything is not perfect? Do they have a meltdown? Do they get discouraged and quit? Do they never start in the first place, fearing that something may go wrong? Any of the above can be expected of a perfectionist, of someone who has a strong need to control everything and to have it come out “perfectly”.
You can see where I’m going with this. If you are a perfectionist, you will have a hard time starting things. You will have a hard time making them run and watching them go sideways from time to time. You will have a hard time finishing things, as you know they will never come out as perfectly as you want them to. You will probably also have ulcers and many other negative side effects of requiring perfection of yourself and likely, of those around you as well.
Here’s what I’m NOT saying: you should have low standards, then you’ll never be disappointed. That is not even close to the point I am making. I think you should have extremely HIGH standards for yourself and those around you. I think you should do everything in your power to live up to those high standards and achieve more than the vast majority of the population. But I DON’T think you should be a perfectionist. Life does not have to be binary. It does not have to be black and white. There is a middle ground.
It is also extremely important to pick your battles wisely. If you are starting or growing a business, or trying to achieve greatness in sports or any other endeavor, it is likely that you’ll confront dozens of different decisions and challenges each day. These decisions and challenges are not “one size fits all” – they do not have equal importance and implications. It is extremely important to look at each decision and challenge you face in context. You must consider its potential impact on a micro and macro level, before you react.
Some issues and challenges you face WILL be extremely important. Depending what your area of endeavor is, it’s not likely that they’ll be “life or death”, but in some cases they may be. Whatever the case, you need to learn to maintain your poise and stay calm. That is the only way that you can perform at your best. When you run into stressful situations or those that invoke fear, use the G.A.M.E.S. Approach, which I’ve covered elsewhere and is based on techniques taught to the Navy SEALs to master extraordinarily challenging and stress-inducing scenarios. It focuses on effective Goal-setting, Arousal Control, Mental Rehearsal, Endurance, and Self-talk.
Whatever approach you employ to overcome perfectionism, the first step is to recognize that you have an issue. From there, you can take a deep breath and each successive step should get a little easier. Fear of failure should be less of an issue for you going forward. You should become better at managing difficult situations and finishing what you start. You should be less likely to let your perfectionist tendencies keep you from achieving all you’re capable of and from leading the less-stressful, happier existence you deserve.
I look forward to your thoughts and comments.