Being a perfectionist, especially in business can be a huge drawback! That’s a strong statement, I know, but I have learned from my own entrepreneurial journey and from those of people I have mentored, that perfection doesn’t exist. The harder you reach for it, the further away from your true goal you are led. You can even be paralysed into inaction through fear of not achieving a perfect result. This article aims to help you combat your inner perfectionist, so you can focus on excellence and moving your business forward.

First of all, let me be clear that attention to detail and wanting excellent performance or results is not what I term as perfectionism. Please understand that I want you to see that something can always be improved upon to the point of excellence, but the point of perfection is infinitely further away.

Combat perfectionism by setting realistic goals and expectations

You’re probably in the habit of ‘managing expectations’ for your customers. There’s a formula to producing excellent work and I’m willing to bet that you’ve had a discussion along these lines in your time as a business owner! So be real with yourself and manage your own expectations. Remember SMART goal planning? That formula can be applied here too.

  • Is the project brief specific enough?
  • Do you have the skills and assets required?
  • Does the customer have a realistic expectation?
  • Is the deadline tight?

Having a realistic expectation to begin with lessens the likelihood that you’ll be disappointed in yourself at the end.

Refer to the mean value of your work

This was a great tip from Matt Eastland-Jones of Story Ninety-Four. When he questions the quality of his work and feels it wasn’t good enough he has a tendency to fall into a slump. So, he refers to the mean value of his work over time. Every piece of work lands on a scale of excellence and the idea is that every piece produced aims to move that mean average up the scale.

This a great way to view the ‘big picture’ of your standards and stop fixating on one imperfection.

Evaluate your output and productivity

As an example, look back at your last project or piece of work. Where did it land on the scale of excellence? Why?

If you can view your output and productivity with an analytical mind, you will see the areas of excellence. If you really weren’t happy with what you produced, even though your customer was, can you ask yourself how realistic your expectations were to begin with, and then get a plan in place for the next time?

Be critical of yourself, but be fair

Herein lies a lesson in learning from failure, or in this case imperfections. Beating yourself up and berating yourself for missing the chance to be perfect will only cloud your judgement and perception of your own value. Your customers value you, so yes, view your performance with a healthy critical eye on behalf of those customers and in the pursuit of excellence, but be fair and honest with yourself.

Some people say, ‘that will do, will never do’, others say, ‘something is better than nothing’ – which camp do you fall into?

I hope this article has been thought provoking and helped you towards beating that perfectionist! If you’d like to talk more about the subject, then let’s have a conversation and see if I can help.

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