There I was, sitting in a room with HR, a manager, and a partner and they ask me the dreaded question:
“What would you consider to be your biggest weakness?”
“I’m a bit of a perfectionist.”
And I would say this because I would actually think of it as a strength. Who doesn’t want an employee who strives for perfection?
I was such a foolish 23 year old.
I can tell you now that perfectionism is definitely not a strength, if anything, it’s probably one of our biggest faults.
“Perfection itself is imperfection” – Vladimir Horowitz
Here are 3 reasons why we should all stop trying to be so damn perfect:
Perfect to you is not going to be perfect for others
How many of us take our coffee the exact same way? Very few. “Perfecting” something is like brewing coffee the way you like it and expecting everyone to like it as well.
Everybody has their own idea of perfect, their own ideas, their own likes and dislikes. We cannot mold everyone to be just like us.
Conversely, we cannot cater to everyone. When we strive to please everyone, we don’t please anyone, including ourselves. Our creations end up being average and the problem with average is that it doesn’t truly fit anyone.
In Todd Rose’s “The End of Average: How to Succeed in a World that Values Sameness” , he talks about the US Air Force’s attempts to perfect the standard jet cockpit:
In 1950, they measured 140 different dimensions of the bodies of over 4,000 pilots and used the average values to re-design their jet cockpits.
The result? Not a single pilot fit into the standard cockpit. Even if you’d taken just the averages of 3 dimensions, only 3.5% of all pilots would’ve fit the average on all of them. Taking 140 made sure that absolutely no one would fit in.
After all that work and not one single pilot fit into the standard cockpit that they worked so hard to build.
We will never be perfect because in order to be better than the person we were yesterday, we need to learn and grow. Rather than striving to be perfect, strive to grow.
Perfect does not equal productive
How many other projects are being put off because we try to perfect one tiny detail?
We falsely believe that if we’re tinkering away, it means we’re being productive but the opposite is true; we end up putting other projects and tasks on hold while delaying the release of the one you’re working on.
Striving to be perfect in one thing is simply an excuse to procrastinate in all other areas of your life.
When do we ever just have one thing on our plate? We have projects to complete, lists to check off, and goals to accomplish. There is an endless supply of busy.
We use the excuse of perfection to procrastinate on the things we either don’t want to do or scared to tackle. Perfectionism doesn’t make us productive, it makes us cowards.
Perfectionism is “a pursuit of the worst in ourselves”
Constantly striving to be perfect doesn’t mean we believe in ourselves, it means we don’t.
When we’re constantly finding faults, I believe it’s a reflection on what we think about ourselves. It means we’re always finding something to fix, to tweak, to find something that’s wrong. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put in the hard work, we definitely should, but there’s a point where we have to say it’s good enough and put it out there for the world to see.
There is so much courage in just putting something out there, to be vulnerable, to let the world (and yourself) realize that you have potential. Potential doesn’t mean flawless, it means being brave enough to take the stand even if you’re not ready.
We don’t need more “perfection” in the world, we need more courage.
Originally published at theascent.pub