Results or perfection? Choose one… Yep just one!

At NEP we coach some really awesome people – yes best job in the world…. but I digress… and the nature of the beast is that the issue of perfectionism often rears its ugly head. And yes it can be ugly…

Let’s think about perfectionism as the need for things to be perfect regardless of the consequences or level of importance.

Now sure some things have a high level of importance and not much margin for error like getting compliance right to keep you out of gaol. Likewise, you probably don’t want your surgeon thinking that anything less than perfect is ok, but in most cases we probably all have a little room to incorporate a bit more of the attitude that “results are more important than perfection”.

But there are many situations where the definition of perfection should have a little more wiggle room because ironically, the need to be perfect, just for its own sake, can inhibit you from actually achieving results or at the very least slow down your results.

Here are just a few examples of how perfectionism has held people back:

  • They often don’t start something unless they are going to do it perfectly and so end up getting stressed due to having so many things still on the to-do list.
  • They start and get things about 80 percent of the way there but then can’t quite see a task as being finished – there’s always another way to make it better.
  • They hold themselves back from promotion if they don’t think they can do the job perfectly right from the word go.
  • They don’t exercise at all because the idea of not approaching it like an athlete means they don’t bother moving at all.


The solution

One of the best ways we find to help people to overcome their perfectionism is to work with it rather against it. Instead we help them to redefine what “perfect” is for them in each situation.

In a recent blog we discussed the concept that every task that you do should answer a question. Have you answered the question? If so, great that’s your new definition of perfect. Move on and crush some more results.

Take the exercise example, unless you want to be an athlete you don’t need to train like an athlete to still get the wonderful physical and mental benefits of movement. And to take it even further, when you first start exercising your perfect could be “just putting your gym gear on and walking around the block”. According to neuroscience just starting is a perfect way to create a new habit loop. So at that point in time, just starting is now your new perfect.

So unless it’s a matter of life and death or gaol time, perhaps you have some scope to redefine your requirement for perfection. Consider what question are you answering and then redefine a new level of perfect more appropriate for that situation.

If you think you might have some perfectionistic tendencies which might be holding you back from achieving higher results, please do get in touch. We’d love to help.


If you’d like to find out more, join the conversation in our next open workshop.