Perfectionism is an awesome thing in theory. It produces work with exceptional results, delivered well, with few if any errors. At least, that’s the promise. The reality is something altogether different. Perfectionism is frustrating, can be debilitating and is more often than not exhausting. Behind the striving for excellence is the anxiety of not quite being good enough, of not measuring up and clearing the bar. That has a number of negative consequences, not just for the perfectionist, but for those around them. Moving past it requires understanding first off where perfectionism comes from and why it exists.
Immersing ourselves in a challenge is one of the great joys of work. Finding situations that engage and stretch our abilities, and completing them successfully, can be a huge source of joy and inspiration. Despite this, it is easy to fall into ruts and fall back on routines. The creative solution that we critically engaged ourselves to find yesterday becomes the default and unthinking response today. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are strategies available to find engagement and inspiration, even in the most familiar of circumstances.
Doing the work is fundamental. Yet, if we we’re honest, many of us are tempted by short-cuts. We look for quick wins. We settle for just enough. We distract ourselves. And when we look back over our shoulders, the mountain of work is still there, waiting for us. It might even appear to be a little bit bigger now. When we stop figuring out how to get around it, we realize that the only way to tackle the mountain is to start climbing. On why that’s a really good thing.