I have never achieved perfection, but have often thought that I could do things just a little bit better. I have occasionally been annoyed when co-workers did not share my commitment to perfectionism. This desire for perfection has led to much frustration.
Obsessing over details that are only slightly significant can sometimes cause one to overlook the big picture issues. Getting the basics right is much more important than those tiny details which may not matter as much as you might believe.
A big problem with perfectionism is the resistance to acknowledge any criticism, constructive or otherwise. During my lengthy perfectionist period, if I regarded my work as being perfect (or close to it), any second-guessing could cause me to respond defensively. Taking pride in one’s work is important, but refusing to accept any feedback about it can be counterproductive.
Working in a team situation is particularly difficult for perfectionists. The perfectionist may see input from any non-perfectionists as not useful. If one’s work is perfect, how can anyone else on the team possibly improve it?
If you are a perfectionist, give it up. You will never make it. Realize that nobody is perfect. Best selling books have typos. Network news anchors stumble over words. The top quarterbacks throw bad passes.
Do your best. Check your work. Strive for accuracy. Tend to details. But realize that you will make an occasional mistake. If you’re human, it’s going to happen.
If you can learn from your mistakes and avoid repeating them, you will be a better performer and a better person.
(During Summer 2015 I am revisiting some earlier posts. This one was originally shared in December 2011.)