Thursday, November 8, 2007

A perfectionist? Who me? No way!

“I’m a perfectionist” is the most common answer I receive when asking people to name one of their weaknesses. In thinking back to my own experiences interviewing for jobs, I think I even used it once or twice myself!

I believe people like to list perfectionism as a weakness because it sounds like it could be a strength as well. After all – who doesn’t want things to be done perfectly?

I don’t! I’m not a perfectionist and I’m darn proud of it.

In high school one of my favourite subjects was mathematics. I was even offered a scholarship for University to study pure maths (I know – riveting stuff!) The reason I liked maths so much was that it was possible to turn in a perfect exam and get 100%. I like perfection, I liked getting 100% or striving to. And yet, I still say I’m not a perfectionist. So how does that work?

Well – in maths, there’s typically a right answer and everything else is wrong. In the world of numbers and formulas perfection is possible. In the real world however, most of us don’t deal in realms where perfection is attainable or even measurable.

How does an author measure that they’ve written the “perfect” book?

How does a waitress know they’ve made the “perfect” skim cappuccino?

How does a hairdresser know they’ve given someone a “perfect” hair cut?

How does a business owner know they’ve managed their staff in the “perfect” way?

You can strive for perfection all you like, but in my experience the strive for perfection:

• Leads to procrastination
• Leads to not doing something
• Leads to something taking so long that your competitive advantage is gone
• Is often an excuse to procrastinate!
• Is often a myth and what you’re really feeling is fear of failure (so you put it off and off and off under the banner of “I’m getting it perfect”)

In short – perfection in the real world is, for the better part of time, a myth. Kick ass is possible, awesome is possible, quality is possible – but not perfection.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments


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