Counter the Siren’s call of perfectionism

Counter the Siren’s call of perfectionism

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You need to make a presentation in front of all your collaborators in 30 minutes, where you’re going to speak about the new leave management software and how to works. You’ve already worked on your PowerPoint presentation 6 times, you’ve even added nice little transition effects and then you think it’s a little too corny, so you erase them. You feel the unstoppable need to check all the slides, again and again and wonder if you can do better. You feel stressed: of course, you want everything to be finished on time, but mainly, what you want, is for everything to be ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. So instead of presenting your work in 30 minutes, you send a mail to all your collaborators saying that finally, the presentation won’t be taking place today but in two days. They’re disappointed, as they already saw themselves spending a peaceful one hour, listening to you in the break room. 

Does this situation sound kind of familiar? At times perfectionism is perceived as a quality, careful attention given to little details. However, those struck by it have a hard time finishing a project, delegating and knowing when it is time to stop. When one is an Office Manager and has around 15 000 various and varied tasks to tackle every day, all this with horrendous deadlines, being perfectionist leads to a loss. Not to mention, repeated headaches.

Perfection is the enemy of good

As the saying goes, « Perfection is the enemy of good ». It’s tough for some of us to understand the lesson. For certain reasons (like the fear of failing, the fear of not being good enough and the fact that we compare ourselves to others), we want to be p-e-r-f-e-c-t and acknowledged for such and such thing. 

The truth is, nobody is perfect and looking for perfection can turn out to be useless and dangerous. Fine, perfectionism may look like a worthy goal on the surface (we want to work well) but it mainly makes an impact on the TEXT, relations with colleagues, health and well-being but also balance in the professional and personal life. 

Realization: the first step

One needs a little time realizing that one is a perfectionist and realize that this is causing some serious issues in our professional life. But if you’re a little careful with the way you react to your everyday challenges and to the various expectations of your colleagues, you’ll quickly realize that you’re capable of making the right choices. This means, doing work and submitting on time, which seems suitable and sufficient, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect. 

Stop comparing yourself to Tom, Dick and Harry

When we compare ourselves to others, this means we’re making room for disappointment. Each one has their own way of working and doing things. If you speak to those, who seem to be “perfect” to you, you’ll also notice that they have their very own issues and their life isn’t as slick as it seems. 

Set realistic goals

Learn to set realistic goals and reward yourself once you’ve achieved them. When we achieve our goals, it translates to victory. This means you’re perfect in a way, or at least perfect enough. 

Is stress really worth it?

At times, we really get worked up over a task, which finally isn’t really important. The next time you tackle a new file, like choosing a supplier for the bulbs in your office, ask yourself: is it really important? Is it a question of life or death? Often, we seem to stress over things, which we quickly forget about, when the day is over. 

Understand that the notion of “perfect” is subjective

If you’re a perfectionist, the work you’ve done and you think is “good enough”, will surely be very good, even perfect for someone else. On the other hand, some people will think that your work is well done, while others will have a critical opinion about the same work. In short, all this to tell you that the notion of perfection is different for each person: we are all different. So, you won’t be able to satisfy everyone. If you did everything in your power to do a good job and a colleague doesn’t find it groovy, don’t take it personally: he has his own way of judging, which is different from yours. 

It’s all about progress, not perfection

To conclude, a little perfectionism here and there, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if it triggers optimism inside you, the desire to do work well, improve your skills and always do things better. However, when perfectionism gives us the impression that what we do is “never good enough”, is the problem: one is unhappy, stressed and not really productive. Try to find the right dose of perfectionism, to move forward without getting all worked up.

More informations here 50 unique ways of rewarding your collaborators and making them happy


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