How Perfectionism Can Hold You Back

Are you a perfectionist? For many people it’s a point of pride–but it may be keeping you from reaching your highest potential.

If you constantly do everything perfectly and perform everything flawlessly, you may think you’re being effective and efficient. But sometimes it’s the imperfect performances that demonstrate your greatest potential.

Here are eight ways that perfectionism may be holding you back:

1. When you’re perfect, you don’t take risks.

Being an entrepreneur is risky; being an industry leader brings uncertainty. Being perfect may make you feel bulletproof, but it’s really keeping you stuck within the status quo. Risks are a necessary part of growing and improving.

2. When you’re perfect, you insist on going by the book.

Being a leader and taking initiative is part of being a visionary. Following established procedures is orderly, but it doesn’t give you or your ideas room to stretch. You don’t have to give up your careful nature entirely–with just a little bit of creativity and innovation, the standard approach can still lead you to something new.

3. When you’re perfect, you’re not developing.

Perfectionism often stems from the belief that you can avoid pain by living and doing everything exactly right, but it’s only a temporary shield at best. The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and freeing yourself to begin the work of developing yourself.

4. When you are perfect, you can’t push the envelope.

The path to perfection is doing the same thing the same way again and again. But when you intentionally put yourself in uncomfortable situations, you engage in conscious reinvention. The rewards? Creativity and innovation.

5. When you’re perfect, you aren’t open to new ideas.

For business to be successful, for leadership to be visionary, you must learn some new techniques that will spark creativity and force you to think differently. But when you are stuck in perfect, that process can’t even get started.

6. When you’re perfect, you cannot adapt to new situations.

In today’s environment of complex challenges and rapid change, adaptive problem solving is a crucial ability. Adaptability is not just a “nice to have” competency but an important competitive advantage. The addictive nature of perfectionism keeps us from adapting to new situations that can help us evolve.

7. When you’re perfect, you’re thrown by unexpected demands.

It’s hard enough for any business leader, manager, or entrepreneur to keep up with the unpredictable demands that are part of doing business. But to a perfectionist, the unexpected can be catastrophic.

8. When you’re perfect, you can’t adopt new strategies.

If you can’t adopt new strategies, you can’t be successful.

Perfectionism is self-destructive for one very simple reason: There is no such thing as perfect.

You need to know what perfectionism may be costing you so you can make the most profitable investment of your best potential. Then cut yourself loose from any thinking that prevents you from taking risks, showing initiative, learning, developing, and growing.


N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R


What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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