excellence, not perfection

perfect, yes, but at what cost?

perfectionism is linked with many clinical issues including depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, insomnia and even suicide

“Working hard, being committed, diligent, and so on – these are all desirable features. But for a perfectionist, those are really a symptom, or a side product, of what perfectionism is. Perfectionism isn’t about high standards. It’s about unrealistic standards.

“Perfectionism isn’t a behaviour. It’s a way of thinking about yourself.”

Perfectionists feel every bump in the road

“perfectionists tend to respond more harshly in terms of emotions. They experience more guilt, more shame,”

Hill has found that the single biggest predictor of success in sports is simply practice. But if practice isn’t going well, perfectionists might stop.

The trouble is that, for perfectionists, performance is intertwined with their sense of self. When they don’t succeed, they don’t just feel disappointment about how they did. They feel shame about who they are.

If you get praised whenever you do something well and not praised when you don’t, you can learn that you’re only really worth something when you’ve had others’ approval.

t’s about creating an environment where imperfection isn’t just accepted but is celebrated, because it means we’re human – Rasmussen

“It’s the idea that you don’t have to be perfect to be lovable or to be loved.”

What makes it different than depression or anxiety is that the person often values it – Egan

“It can be liberating, allowing imperfection to happen and accepting it and celebrating it,” Rasmussen says. “Because it’s exhausting, maintaining all of that.”


  • thinking and acting in extremes (I blew my diet with that piece of candy, so might as well eat unhealthy foods all day.)
  • using the word “should” a lot which reveals that you have a lot of rules in your head that you live by
  • fixating on something you feel like you messed up
  • procrastinating activities that you worry you won’t excel in Perfectionism often causes procrastination. Fear of being unable to deliver to some unachievable standard often causes them to completely avoid doing what needs to be done. 


  • Seeing the big picture rather than getting caught up the minutiae. (“Will this matter a year from now?” “What is the worst that could happen?” ”Could I survive it?”)
  • treating perfectionism similar to exposure therapy used to treat phobias, by exposing yourself to being imperfect in order to get more comfortable with imperfection (purposely make a mistake during a presentation, include a typo in an email, be late for an appointment, or wear something that doesn’t look as nice as you usually dress)
  • I’m disappointed, but it’s okay
  • Show up for an appointment 15 minutes late
  • Leave a visible area in the house a little messy
  • Tell people when you are tired (or other feelings that you consider a weakness)
  • Wear a piece of clothing that has a visible stain on it
  • Purposely allow several uncomfortable silences to occur during lunch with a co-worker
  • Purposely be a few cents short for bus fare
  • Lose your train of thought during a presentation
  • Send a letter or e-mail that includes a few mistakes
  • Talk at a meeting without first rehearsing what you are going to say in your head
  • Try a new restaurant without first researching how good it is
  • Creating realistic schedules. Break down larger tasks into manageable steps. On a chart or calendar, write down the goal or deadline, and work towards it, setting small goals for yourself along the way. Don’t forget to reward yourself for reaching each goal. It is also helpful to decide in advance how much time you will spend on a task. Remember, the goal is to complete the task, not to make it perfect!
  • Setting priorities. Perfectionists sometimes have trouble deciding on where they should devote their energy and effort. Prioritize your tasks by deciding which are the most important to accomplish, and which are less important. It is O.K. not to give 100% on every task.

Perfectionism is focused on “doing the thing ‘right’”, how things APPEAR, and if OTHERS think it’s done right.
Excellence is about “doing the right thing”. It is focused on the REASON for a task, and the RESULTS for it to be a success.

you don’t have to always do things right – as long as you always do the right thing.