When you interview for a job, a common question asked is: what are your shortcomings? Interview coaches will use the example of perfectionism as “a positive shortcoming”. While it’s considered a fault, it also sounds like you strive for better. How is that really a fault?
Seth Godin recently put out a post called “On feeling incompetent” (--it’s worth reading!). At some point, we get tired of feeling incompetent. This is where I found myself.
I was anxious over the quality of my work-- or of me. While I didn’t realize I felt incompetent, I felt like my work was not good enough, even though people supported and praised the work I did. Could they not see the faults in my work?
This feeling made it very difficult to pursue my work with any consistency. I would have bursts of feeling productive and profound, followed by a lot of debilitating, “I have no idea what I am doing. I’ll never make it.“.
I wanted my work to be perfect. My problem wasn’t lack of talent or skills; my problem was that my need to perfectly think through every possible angle was insatiable. This was highly unproductive and a waste of time and energy. And I was tired of feeling incompetent....though it pushed me at last to change.
Perfection may perhaps be necessary in certain types of work like creating tools for safety such as designing a seatbelt. But for most, perfectionism is not at all helpful. Good enough is a lot better than you think. It has been said that bringing a bit more wisdom-- just a mere 1% --to the person seeking your message or service is all that is necessary to make a difference.
So is perfectionism truly a fault? While I might have made sufficient contributions in my past work, I feel it safe to say that I could have brought a lot more value and had a lot more fun then, without the bondage of perfectionism to which I was shackled.
I am a mama, an intentional storyteller, a celestial communicator, a spiritual teacher, and a lover of stories of all kinds, in all forms. I write about parenting, natural health options, mind-body-soul connections, and anything that elevates our lives.