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An entrepreneur is not a perfectionist.

Uncategorized Oct 07, 2019

You need to stop being a perfectionist if you want to be an entrepreneur”, I was told at some point.

At the beginning I didn’t understand what it meant, I felt that they wanted me to be “mediocre” o that I do things “sloppily” or “carelessly”, and I thought, I’m not going to do a mediocre job, my entire professional life has been characterized by doing my job very well, I’m not going to now start creating something that is not entirely to my satisfaction, just to create it and move forward.

In our society that’s driven by success, being perfect is the ultimate objective.  The characteristics of perfectionism (constant effort, attention to detail, high standards, commitment to the outcome, direction, hard work, achievements, planning and preparation) are very much praised and admired.

However, ask a perfectionist how his or her life is really going and the answer is harsh:

  • "If I’m not the best, then I’m a failure".
  • "I can’t ask for help, people will think that I’m not good enough".
  • "I’m exhausted, but I can’t relax, I always have to be one step ahead ".
  • "I never feel satisfied, and nothing I do is enough ".
  • "If I make a mistake, it just proves that I’m not worth anything ".
  • "I feel empty, like I could never be happy ".

Perfectionism, when taken to the extreme, has negative consequences.  It can lead to being addicted to work, eating disorders, over-training, social anxiety, body dysmorphia, chronic stress, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, insomnia, and cardiac issues.... What??

When you expect perfection, you set a standard that is not healthy and I have news for you, you will never reach perfection, and when you think you’ve reached it, you will soon learn that there is something better. 

So don’t wear yourself out.

Expecting perfection in others could leave you alone, without friends or co-workers, we all have our problems, our areas of opportunity (as I call them), the perfect human being does not exist, we all complement one another.

I have learned that perfection can be confused with having high standards.  Reasonable standards can be healthy and productive, however, extreme ones are those that are unreasonable, unhealthy, and even trigger self-esteem problems.

I have also learned that being a perfectionist feeds stress as well.  Perfectionism can make you concentrate too much on the negative instead of the positive, you can lose opportunities by rejecting something you consider not good enough without seeing the potential it may have. 

So, what is perfectionism and why is it important?

Let’s begin with what perfectionism is not.  It is not the search for excellence or setting challenging goals, but reachable ones, where achieving them brings a healthy sense of satisfaction and reward.

Perfectionism is reaching for unrealistic standards.  It is characterized by a compulsive effort to achieve perfection, equating self-esteem with achievement, being highly self-critical and critical, persistent dissatisfaction, a paralyzing fear of failure and a tendency to postpone until things are “perfect”.

Instead of helping to reach your objectives, perfectionism can be an obstacle.  It can frustrate happiness, keeping you trapped, leaving you unsatisfied with your progress, making you believe that anything that’s not perfect is a failure and leading you to have a restricted vision about the “perfect” way to work, live, eat, and exercise.

It can keep you so busy planning, preparing, and obsessively seeking perfection that you will find yourself deprived of opportunities for growth along the way.

In order to avoid this we suggest that you first recognize perfectionism.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do things well, however, we suggest you check that you’re not going to the other extreme.  Do you recognize yourself doing some of these things:  

Mark with [x] if .... 

[  ] You feel that things should always be done a certain way

[  ] You believe that if it’s not perfect, it’s a complete failure

[  ] You postpone a decision until circumstances are right

[  ] You worry that others see fault and judge you

[  ] You think that asking for help is a sign of weakness.

[  ] You are afraid to start something new in case you are not the best

[  ] You think you should be doing things better and rarely give yourself credit

[  ] You tend to abandon objectives if you make mistakes

Many people will have some of these characteristics, but if most of them apply to you, it may be that you are a perfectionist.

We all fear failure to a certain extent.  However, for a perfectionist, this fear can be paralyzing.  Failure is seen as a direct reflection of self-esteem.

If you are a perfectionist, it’s possible that you find yourself doing and re-doing, checking and double checking, and always doing things a certain way.  You do not want to not be in control or appear not to be in control.  When focusing on the details, you feel you can control the outcome and avoid failure.

The key to overcome this fear is to accept that failure is a normal part of life and recognize it as one of the best ways to learn, grow, and create opportunities.

One of the characteristics of perfectionism is delay or procrastination.  Endless planning, preparing, and organizing creates a false sense of doing.  For a perfectionist, starting something new can be terrifying.  Therefore, to delay has a purpose: if you don’t begin, you can’t fail.  And if you can’t do it perfectly, why bother to begin?

I know how difficult procrastination can be.  Over several years, I wanted to start my own consulting and training company.  Many times I daydreamed about what I could do, I did a lot of research, I wrote project after project, I signed up for too many on line courses to learn about internet businesses, I still continue to study, however, there came a point where I had to make a decision, and stop planning and start moving ahead, no matter if my project wasn’t perfect and I learned that it’s better to move ahead and learn as you go along than to wait until it would be perfect because it will never be.

Focusing on all or nothing is common among perfectionists.  There exists a strong belief that, if you can’t do something perfectly, it’s not worth doing and that is one big lie, I guarantee it.

In the month of May we shared with you some tips about this subject, we invite you to review it in our blog  Avoid perfection, get great results.

 © 2019, All rights reserved, Aldin Consulting Group, LLC.

Alicia Díaz-Blevins

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