Human beings are not perfect. DaVinci’s masterpiece is both beautiful and anatomically accurate. Yet, there is evidence that there are previous versions of the painting underneath the final version. At some point, we need to decide our efforts are good enough. If you’re too focused on perfection you are unlikely to succeed.
While high standards are valuable and important when it comes to achieving results, too much of a good thing can and does backfire. When people adopt unforgiving, rigid, unrealistic, or unreasonably high expectations for themselves, it inevitably has the opposite effect of what they are trying to achieve. This type of thinking is often the root cause of business owners’ disappointing results. Or why someone hits a professional wall.
Impossible goals result in impossible stress
When human imperfections smash up against impossible goals and standards, there is a tendency to focus on the flaws – ours and everyone else’s. The result can be some mean and relentless self-diminishing thoughts, causing stress and anxiety. When directed outward, it can demean and disengage team members or employees, sucking the motivation right out of them.
Perfectionism prohibits the ability to move quickly, be more efficient or delegate tasks. Instead of acting, there is endless analysis or reiterations. Conversely, the drive to constantly do better may also mean quickly trying to resolve problems. It is difficult to be vulnerable and hear less than optimal feedback when something goes awry.
Perfectionists can make lousy leaders
People with inflexible high standards often have a difficult time hiring and retaining people. They demand that others be able to meet their unrealistic expectations. Perfectionists may feel discomfort providing improvement feedback to others in a tactful way. They may struggle to communicate effectively on sensitive issues or try to increase control over situations. If an overachiever’s uncompromising criteria are accompanied by an unforgiving attitude, the end result can be toxic and a revolving door for employees. And here is the kicker, you probably don’t even realize you are doing it. Or that it is the cause for so many woes.
We are much more successful when we can accept our imperfections and cut ourselves a break. Clients pay for delivering what is promised or a product that works. There is no add-on fee for perfection. Under promising and over delivering can be an effective strategy – spending excessive time and effort to go well beyond what is expected rarely gives us the advantage we hope for. It’s important to learn to pause and assess the benefit to effort ratio. At some point it is critical to identify when investing in improvements is no longer desirable, or profitable. This is often referred to as the law of diminishing returns.
Rewire your brain for better balance
The skills we need to overcome the root cause of needing to be too perfect can be learned. But we must first unlearn the thinking habit that’s getting in our way and understand what is driving the need for perfection. Just like there can be many causes of the sniffles or a sore throat, there are many causes of common behaviors that get in our way. We are all wired to react differently, based on our own experiences. This drive for unrelenting high standards can be caused by many things, including fear, overvaluing control, or rigidity about values.
If you are this way, do you think you can figure it out yourself? I challenge you to. But, if you have been trying to change this behavior for six months, two years, or since forever, you need some rewiring. This is what I do. (I am told I do it really, really well). Using a Neuroscience based approach, I can help you lay waste to those faulty connections and lay down new and transformative neuropathways.
The brain can change — and that changes everything. Start creating your masterpiece.
For more on acquiring Leadership Superpowers go to sbvogel.com