According to the English dictionary, a perfectionist is a person who ‘wants everything to be perfect and demands the highest standards possible.’ While most people associate perfectionists with high success, in reality perfectionists stress more and achieve less than the rest of us.
A perfectionist is always motivated to produce high quality work and expect those around them to be of the same standards. They are also highly critical of themselves and fear being criticised by others. They worry about things going wrong and keep thinking ‘what if?’
This mindset causes several problems to the person and the whole team. A leader with a perfectionist personality style finds it difficult to trust other team members so he or she tends to do everything on his or her own and avoid delegating responsibilities to others which prevent others from gaining skills and experience.
According to psychologists most perfectionists have fear and insecurity. They worry if they let go of their meticulous attitude their performance and standards would be affected. Perfectionism in itself is not classified as mental illness but it is linked to high risk of developing anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
From a psychological perspective, perfectionists tend to have what is known as a ‘fixed mindsets’ which means they believe people are born with natural talents and abilities as a result they set exceedingly high standards and strive to avoid failure at all costs.
If a perfectionist experiences failure his or her self-esteem will be affected and would end up blaming themselves for a long time. On the other hand, non-perfectionist have ‘growth mindsets’ so they believe in their ability to learn and grow over time. They consider failure as an opportunity to gain new experience and it does not affect their self-esteem.
So how can a perfectionist manage this problem? The first step is to acknowledge your trait and reflect on your thought patterns and behaviour. You also need to accept the fact that life is full of uncertainties. Focus your energy and thoughts on what you can control.
Avoid fixating on the negative aspects of your work and behaviour and recognise the good parts. Make a list of the three things you appreciate about yourself. Allow yourself to make mistakes, this will provide you a chance to learn and grow and make you realise that it’s not the end of the world. Enjoy every part of what you do and don’t obsess about the end results.
Most perfectionists set hinge objectives that may be difficult to achieve in the allocated time therefore one way to avoid this is to set realistic and smart objectives for yourself and for your team. This will make you less stressed and frustrated when things don’t go your way
Avoid taking criticism personally after all it is someone’s opinions about your work not your personality. Remember that health criticism allows you to identify gaps in your work so you can fix them.
Be kind to yourself and try to lower your unrealistic standards. Do not be harsh on yourself and accept that you are doing your best. Sometimes social media can promote perfectionism through its different platforms, be it YouTube channels, podcasts, books and movies which link success to perfectionism.
If you find such social media overwhelming you need to cut down the amount of time you spend watching them or delete them altogether.
Some people need professional help from mental health professionals to help them understand the roots of the perfectionist way of life and how to overcome it.