Changing Habits

Perfectionism – Turn the curse into a gift

Focus to avoid Perfectionism's traps
wrote this on November 12, 2012 / 2 comments

Perfectionism is a path many people walk but only few get to enjoy.

According to Wikipedia:

“Perfectionism is a personality disposition characterized by an individual striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.  Perfectionism drives individuals to attempt to achieve an unattainable ideal and when they don’t reach their goals, they often fall into depression.”

As almost every description of perfectionism out there will tell you, it is dangerous.  It’s often described as a negative trait.  But as it has the power to break you, it has the power to make you. Perfectionists are responsible for beautiful music, art, complex technologies and almost all the progress mankind experienced since the dawn of time.

There are many famous perfectionist but they all were able to overcome inner conflict, doubt, and procrastination to triumph in the face of adversity.  They successfully nourished their confidence after failures; never losing touch with the positive elements of their work and goals.  How did  they do it?

1# Refocus after Failure

An intense focus on your passion can lead to success.  Thomas Edison described himself as a perfectionist; Steve Jobs (the pixel-perfectionist) was described as having zero tolerance for corner-cutting or mediocre products.  Being meticulous on a constructive level and focusing on achievement and creation drove them to accomplishments.  It also helped them persevere when they faced huge obstacles.  Steve Jobs lost his job, only to come back and help Apple to become the richest company in the world.  Edison is often quoted that he discovered a thousand ways as to how not to make a light bulb before he invented one.

2# What are you passionate about?

After Al Gore lost in the 2000 election he gained weight, grew a beard and probably suffered from mild depression.  Although he won the popular vote, it wasn’t enough to get him into the White House.

Al Gore went through a period of introspection to find his passion, most notably global warming and climate change.  His passion, idealism and drive led to an award winning documentary that had a tremendous impact across the globe; not just in the US.  To that end he won the Nobel Prize in 2007 “for (his) efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”

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3# Healthy and Constructive Review of your work

When it comes to reviews, perfectionists fall into three categories:

  • Those who think that everything they do is perfect and don’t believe in reviews;
  • Those who obsess and review their handiwork until they’re stuck in an analysis paralysis cycle.
  • And those who know how to use reviews to their advantage and improve their work constantly.

Director James Cameron falls into the third category…

“People call me a perfectionist, but I’m not. I’m a rightist. I do something until its right, and then I move on to the next thing.”

James’ approach to review is the healthiest since he assess his work, confirms his objectives are met which ultimately leads to the best results.  Notice that he takes pride in his so called perfectionism. The job gets done right, there is closure, and onto the next objective.

The Perfectionist’s worst enemy looks back at him from the mirror every day.  Make sure you’re focused on success driven actions, stick to your passion and review your work constructively!

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