Exit Perfectionist, Stage Left

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“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali (Painter)

I wonder how many of us have allowed our sense of perfection to interfere with our work. I think that fear of perfection often masquerades as perfectionism. We hold up the standard for ourselves that we should always try to do a perfect job yet we know we never attain this goal. Instead, we often sabotage our own work with procrastination or absent-mindedness. Funny how putting off the start of a project or forgetting to assemble all the needed resources on time naturally serves as an excuse. “I could have done a better job but I just couldn’t get to the project in time.”

It should be clear that I have some up-close-and-personal experience with this.

It even becomes a badge of honor: “Look at me! My standards are so high that even I can’t meet them all the time.”

Maturity does help – though it ought not to be a requirement – in efforts to reverse this approach and mindset. This is nowhere near the problem for me that it was twenty years ago, though even that was later in life than I wish.

Instead, I think back to a presentation to my Speaker University class by Johnny Campbell, who is a quite popular keynoter and trainer. In this class, Johnny told of his first professional product. It was a series of recorded lessons available only by monthly subscription, and at a low cost. Johnny told us that he would shut himself into his bathroom to make the recordings that were then sent out on CDs. Apparently the bathroom had the best acoustics in the house. What matters most to our discussion, though, is that Johnny usually did these recordings in only one take. He said that what mattered was getting the message out to his followers and that he wasn’t worried if there was an occasional slip or stumble.

It doesn’t matter if there’s an occasional slip or stumble. That makes sense to me, a recovering perfectionist.

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