Do you want to be perfect or excellent?
I had to ask myself this question as I was listening to a Jon Acuff podcast. As I was listening it became crystal clear to me the moments I’m pursuing excellence and the moments I’m letting perfectionism hold me back.
Following are the highlights and my spin on what I learned from him.
When we strive for excellence, we have high standards that encourage us to make improvements, solve problems and do quality work. It focuses on the process.
Perfectionism is the belief we must be perfect to be acceptable. It focuses on the outcome. Anything other than perfect is failure. Perfectionism is an attitude, not necessarily a behavior.
Excellence, unlike perfectionism, does not demand a sacrifice of self-esteem as it tends to focus on the process of achievement rather than the outcome.
3 Differences between excellence and perfectionism
- Excellence Launches. Perfectionism lags.
Excellence: You hit your deadlines, stick to the diet, publish the book, finished cleaning out the basement.
Perfectionism: You half wrote the book, you quit the diet, you stopped cleaning out the basement because you couldn’t find the perfect containers.
- Excellence energizes. Perfectionism drains
Excellence can still be tiring but you’re exhausted and elated.
Perfectionism leaves you feeling empty and hopeless.
- Excellence encourages others. Perfectionism discourages others
Excellence: People who pursue excellence are admired for their drive for excellence. You give everything you’ve got. You keep your eyes on what’s important. You don’t nit-pic everything.
Perfectionism: No one aspires to be like you or to work with you. You’re seen as difficult, holding up progress, micro-managing.
It can be difficult to tell if we are in the pursuit of excellence or trapped in perfectionism when we are all up in our heads thinking, thinking, thinking.
Here are 8 ways to spot perfectionism.
If you answer yes to any of these, perfectionism is running the show.
1. Are the expectations for any goal you want to accomplish unreasonable?
I expect to lose 10 lbs in a week.
I will run every day.
This will be easy.
2. Is the timeframe to accomplish the goal impossible?
This trips you up with the speed of your progress. You believe you should be making faster progress.
I should implement this new system in a week.
I should get healthy in 10 weeks.
If it took you 5 yrs to put on the weight, why are you only giving yourself 5 weeks to take it off?
“Never give the problem 10 years and the solution a week.”Jon Acuff
3. Are you obsessed about the results other people are getting?
Perfectionism amplifies comparison.
“Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”Jon Acuff
It’s normal to compare yourself to others. But instead of comparing yourself to who is on the top, the biggest and best in that field, industry, or endeavor, compare yourself to someone similar. Someone who is slightly ahead of and better than you.
Use this comparison not to beat yourself down, but to learn. What can you learn from this person and their experience that will help you accomplish your goal?
4. Do you forget to celebrate your progress and move on to the next thing before celebrating what you just accomplished?
Perfectionism, eliminates the possibility to celebrate. It says that no victory is ever big enough.
Perfectionism moves the goal post. It never allows you to celebrate at the finish line because perfectionism keeps moving the finish line. For example, you think, “I got all 3 priorities done today, but it would have been better if I could’ve got 2 more things done too.” You never get to enjoy the reward of all that hard work.
5. Are you suffering from burn-out?
If perfectionism is the standard, it’ s an impossible standard. You’ll never be finished. You’ll never be good enough. Ugh.
6. Are you overthinking and over researching?
Acuff says perfectionism turns the starting line on the ground into a wall of indecision and procrastination.
Let’s say you want to get in shape. You tell yourself this time is different. If you’re going to do this, you’re going to do it right. So, you start asking yourself all the questions.
How many times will I go to the gym? What kind of workout will I do? How many calories can I eat? Do I take the right supplements? Where am I going to buy my workout shoes? How will I work this into my busy schedule? What’s the best gym to join?
The pile of questions has turned your starting line that was so easy to cross into a wall you have to climb.
7. Do you make up fictional problems to fix?
Perfectionism makes you think you must fix fictional problems. It tells you to fix problems that haven’t even happened yet.
If you’re thinking about starting a business, you wonder what you will do when you must fire someone? What if they have a family? It’ll be awful. So, you decide to play small and be a solopreneur or not start the business at all. Sheesh, you could be years away from ever having to worry about that.
8. Do you think everyone else has it all figured out, except you?
Perfectionism cripples’ community. You worry your progress is too messy, your life is too scattered, and your challenges are too big to bring anyone else in, so you hide, and you do it alone or not at all.
How many of these did you answer yes to?
Now you know.
What is one change you’re going to make to move out of perfectionist thinking?