It’s Time To Ditch Perfectionism

I’m coming on the journey too


Tallulah Goldsmith

3 years ago | 4 min read

Many people believe that in order to be successful, you have to make your every move flawless. Perfectionism is one of the most dangerous commodities for any business to be subjected to. Though the name isn’t particularly threatening, the outcome of buying into nitpicking is. We often forget the importance of making mistakes when it comes to successful leadership and business advancement.

This is because once we have achieved success, we tend to erase the struggles from our memory, which means when we look back on our journeys, it is with rose-tinted glasses. Though such a nostalgic vision of our progress can seem nice, in reality, it is our mistakes that make us not only better leaders, but also more equipped for future problems and how to solve them quickly.

An overly confident businessman is ignorant to believe that all decisions will lead to triumph- and a wise entrepreneur will know that some of their greatest advances were a by-product of some cataclysmic mess ups.

The secret to embracing your self-doubt and building upon inner confidence is that regardless of whether you are right or wrong, making quick decisions will leave time and space for quick fixes too. Hiccups are expected in all other areas of life; therefore it is unachievable to set goals for yourself in business that disallow you to have flaws.

A very wise businessman once reminded me that ‘the more mistakes you make, the faster you will learn’ and now I am here to tell you, that same truth. Psychologically, we evolve internally with every new experience, and though the fear of failure may be great within us all, our brain utilises our mistakes in order to create space for wonderful new ideas.

There are three types of perfectionism. The first, self-oriented. Though potentially obvious, self-oriented perfectionism is a form of pressure imposed upon oneself, leading to unachievable standards of precision and development that lead to depressive moods and an increasing amount of dissatisfaction in previous areas of great joy.

This is particularly evident in professional sportsmanship. Though setting high goals for yourself can be a healthy source of motivation, business leaders who identify with this type of perfectionism will eventually disable their business, through nit-picking and self-doubt over decisions that may be time-sensitive, for example.

In order to move past this type of self-oriented distress, listening to a supportive network and community that embrace you and your business can be extremely helpful. Reassurance that getting things down, regardless of potential setbacks, as a result, can be a stern reminder of the importance of urgency when trying to advance a new idea or campaign.

Other oriented idealists are equally detrimental to company triumphs, in a similar way to micro-managers. Hyper-focus on certain employees and their journey through victories and failures is not only exhausting for the person overly concerned with their employees or co-workers but also the people subjected to the perfectionistic standards and quibblers.

If an employee feels as though they will never be good enough for your company level, eventually they will lose motivation to perform and potentially quit. If the bar is set too high all of the time and the goalposts are constantly moved, frustration overtakes any desire to please employers and people not only plateau but often become less productive.

Finally, socially prescribed perfectionism. For people suffering from this form of cognitive distress, overcoming self-doubt is only part of the problem. As a business leader, this could be prevalent in a fear of never being good enough for society as a whole.

The pressure of running a successful business may be overwhelming, as this is a goal that seems impossible to achieve, as they believe that others expect perfection from them.

Growing inner confidence that your decisions will be valued, but not assuming that they will always be right, allows people who fear disappointing others the opportunity to accept that any mishaps are not a direct reflection of themselves as individuals.

Great fear comes from the idea of failure, and often leaders do not feel equipped to authorise many of the decisions that fall to them. Human beings are good at identifying when they are lacking in the skills required to achieve success, as well as focussing on the facilities needed (and unavailable) to carry out certain aims.

However, something we are less good at is opening up to the idea that we are well prepared for the job at hand, or that inner confidence is a healthy-not and arrogant- ideal to possess.

Backing yourself is not necessarily overconfidence, but rather an essential item to bring to any business decision or new endeavour, so make sure to check in with those who believe in your abilities if you’re having trouble identifying your own.

Step one to ditching perfectionism is acknowledging that it’s there! Once you have, it will be easier to figure out why you are challenging yourself with such high standards.

If you can learn to lower these goals just marginally, you will have to be able to give yourself a reason to move onto new tasks quicker too. It is essential that you accept that you will never be able to meet your goals to the standard that you had initially imagined internally, but identifying ‘must-haves’ versus ‘nice-to-haves will highlight to you that sometimes getting the job done is better than achieving perfection.

Perfection is unrealistic, and success comes from moving forward and away from anything that reinforces your perfectionistic tendencies.

Now, go get moving and make mistakes, and remember, every setback is a step towards victory from now on.


Created by

Tallulah Goldsmith

Psychology student writing about behavioural sciences, business psychology and child development







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