Challenges of High Achievers – Challenge #3: Seeking Perfectionism

Do you know the one thing that separates high achievers from the rest? We do a great job at what we do and don’t settle for ‘good enough.’ How often have you heard a high achiever say, “I’ve done a good enough job,” and moved on? Chances are none.

The challenge that we unknowingly face is when we cross the thin line of doing our best and greatest, vs seeking perfectionism. The more success we have and the more money we make, the greater is the pressure to keep up with that level of success. Based on the rewards of our previous accomplishments, the threshold keeps moving up all the time. We simply refuse to accept any standard less than perfect.

Getting out the perfect report you’re writing. Working on creating the perfect product you’re building. Devising the perfect strategy for your business. Does any of this ring a bell for you? In doing so we often get branded as ‘difficult to work for,’ and end up taking on too much work ourselves. Invariably, we subscribe ourselves to flawlessness and setting excessively high standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and judgments. In our quest for success and a strong motivation to achieve, we see anything other than succeeding, even a temporary setback, as a failure and weakness.

Being a designer at heart, I find myself striving for pixel-perfection in everything I do. This leads to one of the two outcomes – people find me difficult, often holding to unimaginable standards, and I find myself procrastinating way more often.

The hard fact is that, for high achievers, the fear of being criticized is greater than the pleasure of completing the work. We feel that if we are not in the top spot people will stop liking us. We dread failure. We see failure as the end of the road for us.

The way around this is to realize that we are a work in progress. We can be imperfect high achievers and that’s okay. Effort and difficulty is how we learn and grow.

The root cause of seeking perfectionism often nests in our belief system. Ask yourself, “What beliefs do I have that prod me to seek perfectionism?” “What experiences in my life taught me not a take a risk?” “Are these experiences and beliefs now empowering me in my journey?”

My coach and mentor, Dr. Rangana Rupavi Choudhuri, said, “The antidote to perfectionism is accepting what is whole-heartedly.” Michael J Fox, the actor, said “I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”

Strive for authenticity. Strive for excellence. Strive for greatness. Strive for growth. Strive for accepting yourself whole-heartedly. Shun the requirement to chase perfectionism.


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