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Why You Need To Ditch The Need For Perfection

Mar 25, 2022

How often have you spent hours tweaking something to make it look or read perfectly? Or thought, "if you want a job doing properly, you need to do it yourself". What about having exceedingly high expectations that things have to be done just right? 

I am sure you won't be surprised to hear that many Tech Leaders also feel the need to deliver something perfect.

It's surprising to also hear that a lot of stuff is left undelivered as they do not have the time to deliver something that meets their expectations, or they kick themselves as it is not to their desired standard, and they feel like they are letting the side down.

Perfectionism gets in the way of building a great career as a Tech Leader. It can prevent us from moving quickly or taking advantage of opportunities. 

With unrealistic expectations or goals, we set ourselves up to damage ourselves personally or professionally. 

The continual need for perfection can damage our self-esteem because we never feel like we are good enough.  

You also expend a lot of energy and effort being a perfectionist to avoid making mistakes on the way to your outcome and goals. Missing out on mistakes could mean that you do not learn the valuable lessons that go with them. 

Unfortunately, being a perfectionist also brings its fair share of mental health issues: depression, stress, anxiety, OCD, all kinds of disorders.

So, now it is time to let go of that need for perfection and instead strive for excellence.


What steps can you take to get over that need for perfection?

1. Get into action. Getting into action and doing something is one of the best ways to overcome the need for perfection. Whatever it is, just do it. Don't wait until you get all of these things perfected. The truth is that they never will be. Everything you do is a work in progress. Do something now. Get feedback, and then make corrections as you move forward.


2. Say "no" to unreasonably high demands. We often set high-performance standards for ourselves that would be difficult, if not impossible, to meet even under the best of circumstances. Learn how to say "no" to yourself.

We always set much higher standards for ourselves than anyone else would, and in the big picture, it really means nothing. You would be surprised at how satisfied most people would be with average performance on your part.

I'm not saying that you should sacrifice quality in what you do, but what you'll incrementally gain for large expenditures of your energy and effort is certainly not productive. Trying to be perfect will only delay getting your actions/outcomes completed.


3. Set realistic goals. Unreasonably high demands go hand in hand with setting unrealistic goals. You cannot expect to do everything at once or even at the same level of quality.

Creating a plan of what needs to be done is a top priority. For each major project or item that you need to accomplish, break it down into several goals that are easily doable. A goal of documenting all of your customers' environments can be daunting. However, breaking it into several other goals, including drafting a plan and templates for your document pack, splitting out the technology stacks, and having team members working on a specific stack or customer each, makes the task much more manageable. 


4. Find support. Find others who will support you in the things you are doing. You might consider asking colleagues or a critical friend to give their sign-off of approval on some of the projects that you are working on. 

While you might not think that something is perfect enough, the people who review your work can give you a much less biased opinion. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are doing we cannot see that it is perfect just as it is. Recruit a supportive team to help you determine when enough is enough.


5. Perfect as it is. Consider adopting a mindset that whatever you do is the right thing to do and the best thing to do. This powerful attitude can make all the difference in meeting your outcomes. Not only will colleagues and future recruiters find your sense of personal strength attractive, but you will also have more confidence to make things happen and to make them happen quickly. You'll take more risks, ask more confidently, and work more effectively at everything you do.  


6. Failure is a friend. Redefine how you look at failure. Failure is a completely natural part of life and will inevitably impact you to some degree at some point. 

Failure is not the end of anything, nor does it mean that you are incompetent. Realize that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. It provides you with valuable information that you're doing something or going in a direction that doesn't give the results you want. The sooner you understand that, the sooner you can re-orient yourself in another direction, leading to your success.


7. Reframe your attitudes. According to the dictionary, perfection is defined as freedom from fault or defect, or the quality or state of being saintly. What does it mean to you?

The words we use to describe what we do or who we are, make a tremendous difference in the success we achieve. How do you define perfection for yourself? What about adopting an attitude that you are perfect the way you are? That you are enough. What does perfection mean to you? Write it down and put it in a place where you can read it daily.


8. Make lemons out of lemonade. You might be surprised that you may actually find the ideal opportunity when you're not trying to be perfect. For example, you might not be dressed appropriately for a service delivery meeting, and you don't feel like you're "perfect enough" to talk to anyone. But, you take the opportunity to chat with someone standing in the reception area, and the next thing you know, you're getting superb CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) scores.

Opportunities are everywhere. Take a look at the last few things you did that you didn't think was perfect or didn't meet your high standards. What were the results of your actions? What happened as a result? Did the world stop spinning?


9. Making it happen is more important than perfection. Doing things, putting yourself into action, telling people what you can do for them… all of these things are much more important than spending another hour or another pound trying to make something perfect in hopes that it will buy you some increased level of success.

People aren't attracted to perfection; they're attracted to people that make things happen. If you're at the office trying to perfect anything, the trade-off is that you aren't somewhere where you can be making a difference.

It is vital to surround yourself with people who like to take action. Not only will they motivate you to do the same, but you'll also be able to witness, firsthand, the results they are having by getting out there.


10. Be kind to yourself.  Perfectionists often feel down on themselves for not achieving… well, perfection. 


Perfection is an ideal, not a reality; it is humanely impossible to achieve. Learn how to forgive yourself when you do something you don't think is good enough or perfect. Love yourself for being you and know that everything you do in your career and life possesses your personal spin.

Aiming for perfection all the time brings burnout and sets you up for failure.

People won't be attracted to you because of your need to be perfect. Team members won't respect you because of your need to be perfect. They will be attracted to you because of who you are.  

 So now is the time to ditch that need for perfection.


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