February 27, 2007

Nuggets of Management Wisdom #11

Posted by Bizaholic | 11:14 PM | with 1 comments »

Avoid being a perfectionist; it is the biggest hurdle to growth and success.

I have started getting a feeling that being a perfectionist is like having a serious illness. Having observed some successful as well as not so successful people in my immediate environment – work place, family, friends – I have come to a conclusion that an obsessive tendency towards perfection never allows you to reach the heights of success and greatness. The reason is simple – a perfectionist hates making mistakes, and without mistakes you cannot taste greatness or extraordinary success. Success always comes from experimentation, mistakes, and learning acquired in this process. As Dr. David M. Burns said –

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person.
Another problem with being a perfectionist is the tendency to hang on things till they meet the perfection benchmarks. This often results in unnecessary delay in making decisions and executing something. A perfectionist frequently forgets about timing and relevance of an issue to the solution he is providing. Instead of balancing multiple dimensions of an issue to come up with a balanced and relevant solution, the perfectionist loses focus and gets hung up on one dimension that may not be a significant dimension. When the enemy is in front ready to assault, prudence lies in firing at him with reasonable accuracy rather than set up the gun and the angle for a perfect shot at the heart! It is important to understand when something is good enough and any additional effort would only result in diminishing marginal utility.

It is important to understand that life is not meant to be perfect lest the entire fun element would be gone. Life is a challenge meant to be undertaken with some element of uncertainty and surprise. A perfectionist tries to make life linear and predictable, which is against the laws of Nature. It is important not to be afraid of experimenting and committing mistakes. Experimentation is accompanied by mistakes but history is a witness that nothing great on this earth has ever been achieved without the miraculous powers of experimentation and risk taking. Experimentation and resulting mistakes often open up vistas of opportunities that perfection can never dream of!

As a parting shot, it would be worthwhile to ponder on the words of Anne Lamott in “Bird by Bird” –

I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it.
Ladies and gentlemen, stop being perfectionists and get a real life full of happiness and achievement.


  1. Neo // February 28, 2007 at 1:49 PM  

    My vote to it too.....!!!!!!!!111