Are You a Perfectionist On the Loose?
By Sandy Schroeder
It’s easy to go overboard in a culture that adores achievers and applauds perfectionism. Kids get pulled into this quest very early as well-meaning parents, coaches and teachers push them to score, and then score again!
Travis Bradberry, co-founder of TalentSmart, an agency that services many Fortune 500 companies, took a long look at the issue of perfectionism. He said researchers have established links to anxiety and depression, and cautioned individuals to learn when perfectionism goes too far.
Here are some warning clues of perfectionism that's overdone.
Rationalizing Your Attitude– Deep down you know you are a perfectionist, but you tell yourself that’s what it takes to make your job work.
Freezing Up – When the job becomes too important and the fear of failure too great, it can be incredibly hard to take that first step. That can lead to undone work, or blank pages if you are a writer. Diving in, and moving ahead, really is the answer. Then you can evaluate your work, and gain confidence as you get the job done.
Overreacting to Errors – If something goes wrong, perfectionists tend to overreact and magnify the situation. Others simply decide it’s time to head back to the drawing board and do so.
Criticism Is Hard to Take – As a perfectionist, it matters very much what people think, which makes criticism extremely difficult to handle. Learning how to listen, and learn, and putting feedback to work could make your performance even better.
Criticism Is Easy to Give – Perfectionists can be strong competitors and quick critics. They can be hard on others, and secretly pleased when they do not do well. Learning how to step back, and learn from others as you work with them, could improve your comfort zone and your performance.
Operating with Worry – Perfectionists can wind up operating from fear, always dreading making mistakes. Then one negative can generate more and weigh everything down. Taking the time to list your concerns, and asking a trusted friend to evaluate them, could clear the air.
Loss of Resilience – Perfectionists can lose the ability to roll with the punches. Being strong enough to retain a core identity enables an individual to keep going and succeed.
Bradberry wraps up his warning with advice from Tal Ben-Shahar, from the University of Tehran, who advises perfectionists to become optimalists. Ben-Shahar says, “Optimalists strive just as hard for success, but they’re more flexible, resilient, and adaptive in the pursuit of their goals.”
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