Perfectionists have their place in business. They tend to be high achievers and often serve as critics who can help weed flaws from products and processes. But these folks have it rough in some ways. Here are several negative outcomes of setting your bars too high.
1. A fear of failure will keep you from being the best possible version of yourself.
I have an athletically-gifted son who could be a state contender in a few years as a high school wrestler. Unfortunately, he hates wrestling. In fact, "hate" doesn't come close to describing the aversion, loathing and utter abhorrence he feels for the sport. So, in spite of how my husband and I have tried to point out the folly of throwing away God-given ability, this season he has thoroughly refused to set foot on a mat. His trouble? Wrestling involves inevitable, individual and public loss which is incompatible with his perfectionistic personality. As a parent, I can't help but mourn the loss of what could have been an exciting grappling career.
2. Unwillingness to take risks can lead to missed opportunities.
I once had a neighbor who was domestically gifted and kept an immaculate house. Think a brunette version of Martha Stewart with a touch of OCD, minus an empire and fortune. Believe me--no one could decorate a home, make a snickerdoodle or refinish an antique better than this woman. Yet, despite years of me encouraging her to use her talents and open a vintage home goods shop, she absolutely refused. It was a shame considering our town was known for occasional sales involving hordes of ladies trotting from shop to shop looking for the perfect glass cloche or refurbished side table. Instead, my neighbor complained about a penny-pinching husband who demanded she get a job. She did--doing something she hated, instead of following a path that may have led her to a lucrative future using her natural abilities.
3. Playing it safe will cut you off from adventures and incredible memories.
I have a highly organized friend who appears to have never failed at anything, at least in the three decades I've known her. The one thing she doesn't do well: uncertainty, meaning she's not someone who appreciates spur-of-the-moment anything. Yet for me, some of the best experiences of my life were the least anticipated, while some of the events I have planned to death have been the biggest let-downs.
4. Striving to be perfect sucks all the fun out of life.
Blogging for Tiny Buddha Melissa Dinwiddie tells the great story of having a miserable time during her high school class's senior trip to the beach, all because of she forgot a T-shirt, was worried her stomach wasn't flat enough and sweated all day under a sweatshirt. Meanwhile, a friend discovered she had forgotten to shave one of her legs, announced the faux pas to the entire bus, laughed about it and invited her classmates to do the same. Her friend--who had a fantastic day in spite of her one hairy leg--proved that the people who have the most fun are comfortable in their own skin.
"There's nothing wrong with self-improvement, but the truth is, none of us is--or can even hope to be--perfect," she writes. "We may pursue mastery, excellence, improvement, and be challenged by the pursuit, but insisting on perfection can only lead to self-disgust and unhappiness."