Oh, I can not submit that I am a perfectionist.
Is the one line I hear over and over again, from people close to me to clients, to people in the shops. There is a myth surrounding perfectionism that honestly I just do not quite get.
We use the term perfectionist in the negative as in a reason not to do something or complete something. The excuse is mainly seen in terms of one's own interests and goals.
For the most part, we see a distant goal coming into our view and we quickly push that goal further away using the perfectionist notion to slow us down, to stop our momentum. Our brains freeze up and then the reality of publishing something that in your mind does not seem good enough frightens you.
At this stage, your brain scrambles for an excuse to hold it down, stop the work, stop the dream from ever occurring. The words I am a perfectionist splutter out of the mouth faster than you can think.
This is the excuse of all excuses... but it does not actually make sense.
Unscrambling The Perfectionist Myth:
So the first step in this unscrambling is to understand what perfectionism is.
According to *Brandon Burchard in High-Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way He states that perfectionism is:
"A delay logic fancied up to look respectable."
In other words, we use it to save face, whilst also delaying our dreams.
This does make sense, after all, that is exactly what is being done by the perfectionist. But that explains the why behind the myth but to completely dissolve the myth we need to look more at the definition.
Perfectionism is described in the **Collins English Dictionary as:
The demand for the highest standards of excellence
Whilst perfection is described in the same ***dictionary as:
1. the act of perfecting or the state or quality of being perfect
2. the highest degree of quality, etc the perfection of faithfulness
3. an embodiment of perfection
So to summarise what perfection is it is making a task or object to the quality of being perfect. While a perfectionist is demanding that they achieve the highest standards of excellence.
When looking at this in the context of a delayed logic then it becomes clearer to understand the issues surrounding perfectionism and the excuse of perfectionism.
Why We Allow Ourselves To Lie:
So obviously then to make something perfect and to achieve perfectionism is to complete work to the highest possible standard. That the work in the mind of the person creating this work is to the highest standard.
This is where subjectivism comes into this lie.
Highest Quality... This term in itself is subjective. When this blog post goes out to me this work will be of the highest quality. But to an academic, this work may seem like a child has written it.
The highest quality is subjective, but in the mind of the perfectionist, this is an objective standard that they have to achieve. This is where the problems begin.
The second you launch into a new business or you launch into your newest project, you have just made a decision. The newness of the field that you are entering will put you on the bottom rung. Once you are on the bottom rung of the ladder you can only grow.
However, to the perfectionist, this is simply not true. They cannot see this as it is. They believe that they must immediately be up there with the best. Their works, their words, must be on par with the best.
This is when the problems truly begin to become problems. As this is an impossible standard. It is impossible to be at the level of the best.
Take mindset coaching.
Brendon Burchard (who has been quoted already in this piece). Is considered by many as the best high-performance coach out there. His list of clients speaks for itself.
Getting to this stage has taken over a decade. A decade of committing to this discipline and sticking with it. Creating, growing, and nurturing his thoughts throughout this time.
This then makes it impossible for a relative newcomer (say me) to be on par with his:
- Levels of work
- Levels of knowledge
- Levels of ability
There is no way at this moment in time I can match any of this. But to the perfectionist, they must. They see a blog post, they see a book, they see a podcast or a Youtube channel and immediately think that this is the standard they have to be at before they start posting.
This creates a conflict within themselves. They produce a draft look at the draft hold it to an invisible objective standard in their minds then tweak it. They do this again. Same results.
This vicious cycle can go on for weeks at a time, months even until they sideline that dream.
We allow ourselves to become disillusioned with reality, as we look to social media, look to statistical data, and say "this work is not good enough, I will be laughed at if I put this work out."
This destructive thought process paralyses the perfectionist to the core. They sit on their dreams based on the devil's words.
How To Break The Cycle:
When broken down perfectionism is just a reason to procrastinate. To sum up ****Brendon Burchard's thoughts perfectionism is just a better disguise for procrastination. We can all make the excuse but the excuse does not hold up under any sort of scrutiny.
Perfectionism is not a reason but an excuse. To perfect a piece of work or an idea, it needs to be tested and then tweaked to make it of a higher quality.
To put this into real day examples.
- The first Draft gets completed
- It is then re-read and edited.
- This process can go for 5 or 6 drafts.
- Then it is sent to the publisher.
In both of these examples, the key is that the first draft was completed and shared.
By completing and sharing only THEN you can perfect the idea, the target, the vision of your services and products.
Putting out nothing will only ever equate to becoming better.
Your first attempt will suck. So will your second and so on. But with each one of your services, product, the book will only get better.
Perfectionism is a whisper and a psychological barrier that we invent to keep ourselves protected from failure. We don't fail because our work is not perfect. We fail because we fail to release our work to then perfect it to a higher quality.
Until next time this has been your Mindset Coach Andy
____________________________________________________*Burchard, B. (2017). High-Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way (1st ed., p. 193). Hays House UK.
*** Perfection definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary. Collinsdictionary.com. (2021). Retrieved 2 December 2021, from https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/perfection.
**** This is my summary of the page-long text in High-Performing Habits. Below is the quote. Burchard, B. (2021). High Performing Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way (1st ed., p. 193). Hays House UK. (The reason people don't finish more things isn't perfectionism; it's that they rarely even begin or they get tangled up in doubt or distraction... We could all find reasons why it's hard to be productive.)