Perfectionism is not so bad, unless it’s on autopilot

Perfectionism is not so bad, unless it’s on autopilot

In my vocation as an executive coach, I come across many perfectionists, who can at times drive their people crazy, never being satisfied with a result, always looking for something better and thus burning out themselves and their people.

Let me explain the simple, yet effective approach to get control.


Number 1: Perfectionists ask me to help them to stop being so. Attempting to stop is the wrong approach. It is what has made them great.

Being a perfectionist is not bad in and of itself. It does drive to better, more complete results. However, if it’s a constant requirement that is not under control, it’s on autopilot.

It’s not under control if you don’t even know you’re doing it. The first step is to be aware you are and to get it off the autopilot mode.

Autopilot perfectionism can lead to paralysis. Things don’t ever quite get done. They expand on and on. Therefore, you can’t check it off your list or get it off your plate.


Number 2: Here, the 80/20 Pareto Principle is critical.

Being perfect on everything…

Trying to complete every task…

Handling every email/request…

Attempting to please everyone…

Is not possible

Dilutes focus on the 20% most important things/people

Focuses on the urgent and may ignore the important

Your results suffer

Contributes to a work-life imbalance for you and your people.

First of all, identify the 20% most important things that deliver or address 80% of results. Because the 20% items are so critical, go ahead and be a perfectionist on it. Be who you naturally are.

Secondly, as for the 80% items…let go.

Be less of a perfectionist. Allow something to be done at less than 100%. On some items, don’t even push at all.

Your people will understand this as long as they see you are being selective on what to be perfect on (the 20%) and are informing them on what those things are.


Number 3: Don’t overly focus on what’s wrong. Yes, pointing out issues or problems is good. But if you are constantly looking at things on a glass half empty basis, you will drive both you and your people over the edge.

Be a perfectionist… but on selected things, not on autopilot.

Take action, make a difference.