Is Perfectionism A Fatal Disease?



By John Ruh

A true story:

I was a young entrepreneur and had just sold my first business when I met a woman named Carole DeBerre (she helped transform my life). She once told me, “Perfectionism is a fatal disease.” Given that I was a highly driven entrepreneur committed to perfectionism, I thought SHE was crazy. Fast forward several months: after working with Carole, joining my first real peer group and forming some clarity on the distinction between excellence and perfection, I suddenly understood what she meant! This knowledge helped me tremendously in starting, growing, managing and selling my subsequent businesses. I am indebted to her.

What is the point of this story? Actually there are: 3 POINTS

  1. Excellence is different from PERFECTIONISM.

They may look similar but no one ever achieves perfection. As a perfectionist you are always incomplete or the job is “not good enough.” (Sound familiar?)

  1. It is demoralizing to others if you only acknowledge that which is missing.

This is something a perfectionist does often. And, in failing to recognize what has been accomplished, you run the risk of creating an environment which only talks about what needs to be done. For most security and quality people this creates an atmosphere that actually demotivates them. All human beings need recognition for their efforts and achievements.

  1. MOST people are motivated more by how they feel than by what they know.

You want to make sure the people you impact “feel” like they are winners and NOT like they are incomplete all the time. You don’t have to lower your standards to do that. You just need a better paradigm that includes an on-going individual, departmental and company review system that acknowledges efforts and accomplishments.

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