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The Perfectionism Paradox

Ronnie O’Sullivan

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

Ronnie O’Sullivan

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The Perfectionism Paradox

The Perfectionism Paradox

https://www.ripeminds.com/the-perfectionism-paradox/

ripeminds.com

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Key Ideas

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.

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.

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.

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill

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

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.

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.

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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Social Media acts as the biggest culprit in amplifying perfectionism as youngsters can constantly compare their looks and their lives to others in easily measurable ways.

There is an increased expectation from our family and our peers to be perfect in all aspects of our lives.

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Do a weekly review to reflect on your progress
Do a weekly review to reflect on your progress

Try to identify things you avoided due to fear of failure and situations where your perfectionism wasn’t worth it or moments where you did well despite being uncertain.

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Get an outside perspective on your perfectionist tendencies

Talk honestly and openly to someone about your tendencies and how you’re working on getting better.

Ask them to tell you when you are being too fussy about something so you can think about it.

Interrupting the cycle of rumination
  • Take note of when you’re ruminating and what triggers it until you can see your patterns and find ways to counteract them.
  • Don't trust your first reaction when ruminating. Most of the time, it colors negatively your read of the situation.
  • Seek a diversion to break the rumination cycle.
  • Think positively: remembering your successes and times you tried new things helps you to not be avoidant of tasks you can’t do perfectly.

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Perfectionists tend to set goals of unreasonable excellence with no learning curve or room for error.

Dividing your goals into more achievable steps and rewarding yourself when you achieve them, will make you less stressed, less likely to give up and more forgiving of mistakes.

Alter Your Self-Talk In a Positive Way

Perfectionists tend to be very self-critical but this can perpetuate unhealthy behaviors and decrease their self-esteem.

By altering your self-talk positively, you can better enjoy life and gain an increased appreciation for yourself and your work.

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