The Perfectionism Paradox - Deepstash
The Perfectionism Paradox

The Perfectionism Paradox

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Perfectionism: The Pursuit Of Constant Excellence

Perfectionism: The Pursuit Of Constant Excellence

There is a common trait among many high-achievers: Perfectionism. Celebrated geniuses like Leonardo Da Vinci, Beethoven, Steve Jobs and even Kanye West share an obsessive commitment towards excellence.

The pursuit of excellence does have its pitfalls, and perfectionism does have the tendency to mutate into a constant striving for increasingly unrealistic goals, leading to frustration, anxiety, and a decrease in one’s productivity.

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Perfectionism: The Good

The good aspects of being perfect are intrinsic motivation, extreme focus, ambitious goals, strong work ethic and high personal standards. They are also highly coachable.

Elite performers are often perfectionists as their activity requires error-free performance.

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Ronnie O’Sullivan

"“Looking for perfection is the only way to motivate yourself.”

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN

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Perfectionism: The Bad

Self-criticism and a focus on eliminating errors impairs one’s performance by disrupting the natural ability to demonstrate the learned skills. This leads to a vicious circle where there is a loss of confidence and further critical analysis of one’s diminishing performance.

This leads to training inefficiency and even burnout.

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Winston Churchill

"“The maxim ‘Nothing but perfection’ may be spelt 'Paralysis' .”

WINSTON CHURCHILL

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Perfectionism: The Ugly

The darker side of perfectionism is a form of psychopathology which has been linked to many psychological problems like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), chronic anxiety, eating disorders and even suicide.

Other factors of the bad side of perfectionism are loneliness, depression, low self-esteem and lack of life satisfaction.

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Anne Wilson Schaef

"Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.”

ANNE WILSON SCHAEF

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Two-Faced Nature Of Perfectionism

The Perfectionism and performance relationship has two basic dimensions:

  1. Striving For Perfection: When one is geared towards high personal standards and ambitious goals. This is a positive mental state.
  2. Concern for Perfection: When one is focused on the perceived gap between expectation and actual performance, and dwells over the mistakes, making it a negative mental state.

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Goal Orientation

  • One’s achievement is closely related to the Striving (positive) aspect of perfectionism, where mastery of the task and learnings is kept in focus.
  • If one is unable to achieve their goals, it is often related to the Concern (negative) aspect of perfectionism, where the focus is ego, competition, defensiveness, and avoidance of failure.

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