The all or nothing approach of wanting to be nothing but the best eliminates the opportunity for your business to be good or even great. Let that sink in for a moment.
In this article, we’ll have a look at some of the reasons why the pursuit of perfection can hinder the outcomes of certain projects and some practical ways in which you can effectively minimise your pursuit of perfection for the benefit of your business.
What determines a ‘good outcome’?
Before we start discussing how perfection affects and can potentially hinder the outcome of potential projects, let’s first discuss what a ‘good’ outcome looks like.
One of the most important factors in any project, whether it be the launch of a new product, or the rollout of a marketing campaign, is the level of client satisfaction. How clients react to your brand gives you an idea of whether you are on the right track or not and helps you get a feel for brand loyalty.
Quality product or service
This list would not be complete without mentioning quality. Any product or service that your business provides should be of a high quality and serve a purpose. Your offering should be one that is fairly impressive and worthwhile.
Getting a project done on time or delivering a project within a stipulated time frame is a very important aspect of any successful project. Deadlines are often put in place because other processes depend on them. For example, your product prototype will need to be ready by a certain date as that is when the marketing research analysis was booked for, and many similar examples.
Every business wants to be involved in and deliver profitable projects. This means that the resources and time that you spend on something should make sense when compared to the profits and the benefits that you get out of it.
How does the pursuit of perfection have a negative impact on the outcome?
Now we start getting to the nitty-gritty. Many business owners think that a perfect outcome means a good/ beneficial outcome. But this is definitely not always the case. The pursuit of delivering a perfect outcome can hinder your projects and products in the following ways.
When you are focused on being totally perfect, you leave no stone unturned. You focus on all of the little details to ensure that everything is ‘just so’. And this can be extremely time-consuming. Prioritising perfection often means compromising on deadlines and taking a long time to get relatively simple tasks done within the workplace.
Stress on employees
If you are an employer that is a perfectionist, you are undoubtedly going to put a lot of stress on your employees. You may be quite unforgiving when it comes to small mistakes and may put your teams under a lot of pressure to get things done ‘perfectly.’ This can be exceptionally stressful for employees, and stress within the workplace tends to put a dampener on important factors such as flexibility, resilience, creativity, and innovation.
When you are trying to get something done perfectly, you often tend to overthink things. And overthinking things can lead to making very simple issues very complicated, leading to mistakes being made and time being wasted.
While we have already mentioned time delays, the pursuit of perfection also often results in time delays because of procrastination as business owners wait for the ‘perfect’ time to release a project or product. The truth is that the perfect time doesn’t truly exist, and there will always be external factors that affect the effectiveness of your timing. In the business world, things move quickly, and you’ll also need to move quickly if you want to keep up.
Miss the bigger picture
Understanding the bigger picture and why certain things need to happen is very important to the success of your business. Being a perfectionist means getting stuck in the intricate details of a certain project. Once completed, you may be left wondering about the reasoning behind the entire project, to begin with.
There is no such thing as a perfect solution or a perfect outcome
Here it is…there is no such thing as perfect. ‘Perfection’ can be described as ‘something without flaw’, and we live in a world where everything around us is flawed in some way or another. Pursuing what you think is perfect is only going to leave you frustrated and disappointed.
Perfection is also looked at as a finality, the top tier. So once you have reached this perfect ideal, how do you continue pushing yourself to progress and improve?
The other thing to consider is that the idea of perfection is very subjective…what you may think is perfect or ideal, the person next to you may think is heavily flawed, so it is probably better to let go of this idea of perfection altogether.
How to know if you may be a ‘perfectionist’
Perfectionism is pushed on us from a very young age, mostly at school, where we are encouraged to get perfect results. These perfect ideals often stay with us into adulthood and can affect the way that we run our businesses, interact with others, and live our lives. Some signs that you may be a perfectionist include:
Comparing yourself to others
Perfectionists definitely have a bad habit of comparing themselves to others and measuring their progress and success against the success of their peers. Constantly comparing yourself to others detracts from your own goals. Everyone is unique and has their own strengths. There will always be someone better than you, so comparison can really be the enemy of joy.
If you are a perfectionist, you’re most likely very critical of yourself and feel like nothing that you do is good enough. You may have a voice inside your head that is always telling you what you could have done better or pointing out flaws in your work. While self-analysing can be constructive, too much self-criticism can ruin your confidence.
Detail-orientation is a tell-tale sign of a perfectionist. They get very caught up in the finer details of a project and often forget to look at the bigger picture and the grand scheme of things when working on something.
Obsessed with gaining approval
Do you find that you partake in activities that you may not enjoy or have very little interest in simply to gain approval? Perfectionists want to fit in and do what others think is right instead of doing things and partaking in activities that they truly enjoy for themselves. Perfectionists can also be nervous to try new things in case they are ‘bad’ at it.
Does the satisfaction you get from completing a project feel relatively short-lived? Long-lasting and sustainable satisfaction and contentment may not be something that you’re used to if you are a perfectionist.
Perfectionists often tend to focus on the negative and may have a negative mindset, always focusing on what can still be perfected instead of the work that they have already accomplished. Breaking out of a negative mindset can be extremely difficult as negativity can be somewhat addictive.
See things in black and white
Seeing things in black and white means that you see things as either right or wrong, good or bad, etc. There is no room for a grey area or for finding alternative ways of doing things. Thinking in this way may be cutting you off from a wide range of different opportunities and possibilities.
How not to let perfection control your business and your life
Sometimes it’s good to be a perfectionist. For example, it’s great to aim for perfection when it comes to your bookkeeping and accounts. But in most other areas of your life, perfection can really hinder your progression. Some ways in which you can stop perfection from controlling and hindering your life include:
Not being so self-critical
The first step is to change the way that you speak to yourself. From there, you can change the way that you speak to others. This may be a very difficult step as it is challenging to change your thought patterns, but instead of being self-critical, try to be more forgiving and understanding. Far more progress will be made.
Prioritising progression over perfection
Try to forget about the concept of perfection altogether. Instead, you can focus on and prioritise the idea of progression. Each day, try to do things a little better than the day before and focus on bettering and improving the different facets of your business. Be patient as sustainable progression can take some time.
Looking at the bigger picture
Move away from detail-orientated thinking and start looking at the big picture. Gaining an idea of what is going on around you and discovering how processes affect the bigger picture will allow you to realise how silly it is to sweat and stress over those intricate little details. Big picture thinking will open up a world of possibilities for you and your team.
Focusing on getting projects done
Instead of focusing on those little details instead, you should try to focus on completing projects and getting them done. Release your products, post those social media posts, allow your website to live, send that report. Getting things done will aid in your business’s progression and trajectory. If they are not perfect, that is okay! You can also always improve upon things at a later stage once you have received sufficient feedback.
What is it that makes you, and indirectly your business, unique? Focus on your originality and your uniqueness and bring this into your business offering. What sets you apart from the competition may really be your biggest superpower and may give you that extra edge. Never be afraid to be yourself.
Adapt and be flexible
Perfectionists can often tend to be very rigid in their ways. Adaptation and flexibility may not come naturally to them. But in the world of business, you need to adapt in order to survive. Just look at Covid-19… businesses that found innovative ways to adapt are the ones that came out on top in the end. Each time you get thrown a curveball, think of it as an opportunity to practice adaptation.
If you are a perfectionist, relaxation may not be part of your vocabulary. But having a healthy work/life balance is very important for both your mental health and the health of your business. Taking the time to relax and chill out will help clear your mind, help you to think clearer, and make way for new ideas and thought patterns to form.
Stop trying to impress others
Think about the real reasons you are doing certain things. Are you doing them for you and your business? Or are you doing them to impress people around you? Stop comparing yourself to others and focus on your own goals and objectives. Good things will come!
Be conscious of trade-offs
How much time did you put into your last project? And how much did you get out of it? Be aware of trade-offs and ensure that the things you invest resources into are worth your time.
Communicate your new ideals
If you want to adopt an approach of progression over perfection, communicate these new ideals and priorities with your team so that everyone can be aware of new objectives and be on the same page.
We live in a world that is truly obsessed with perfection in every facet of our lives, whether it be our looks, our homes, our families, our jobs etc. We have basically been indoctrinated to pursue unattainable ideals and will work ourselves to the bone to get there. As soon as you start letting go of this idea of perfection and rather focus on more practical traits such as progression and resilience, you’ll start seeing the benefits that this has to offer your business.