8 Ways Perfectionism Can Really Hold You Back

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When you're trying to get ahead, the drive for perfection can be your worst enemy. The person who never makes a mistake always ends up taking orders from one who does. Here's why.

By Lolly Daskal (President & CEO, Lead From Within)

This post originally appeared on Inc.com

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:

When You're Perfect...

1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

Check out more from Inc.com:

5 Phrases Every Leader Should Overuse You Can Train Yourself to Have More Grit 7 Ways to Avoid Decision Paralysis Photo credit: Mike Mols via Shutterstock.


About the guest blogger: Lolly Daskal is the President and CEO of Lead From Within, a global leading consultant firm that specializes in leadership and entrepreneurial development. Lolly's programs galvanize clients into achieving their best, helping them accelerate and deliver on their professional goals and business objectives. Trust Across America has identified Lolly as a Top 100 Thought Leader in Trustworthy Business Behavior. Lead From Within is a consultancy company with global scope, and Lolly Daskal's clients value her exceptional commitment to excellence, integrity, and results.