Perfection, blessing or curse?

Interestingly, over the last couple of weeks, I have had many encounters with Perfection in very different ways.  In working with different teams and people in different constellations, Perfection was always present and had it’s impact.  Let me share four stories with you:

1. Perfection: outcome of a creative process  – The first story was from 2 team members who created and developed something new and inspirational. Reviewing the process they went through, the process happened  in a state of flow, where creativity emerges, new ideas evolve, positive energy is released and so much was created from each other and things just got better and better.  Sparkling eyes, limitless energy, high positivity.   They described the moments as boosting their energy, flowing creativity and effortless productivity. They were so proud of their work and told me it was just perfect!

  • A goal? I asked them if they had put „producing a perfect something“ as a goal.  They stared at me as if I had asked a very strange question.  No, of course not, it was an outcome of a creative process!
  • Impact? The impact they had had on their colleagues had been inspiring, generating curiosity and people wanting to join them.  Positive emotions and great satisfaction were experienced.

Perfection as an outcome of a creative process is fulfilling, rewarding, energizing and motivating!

2. Perfection: source of frustration and unproductivity – I worked with a team where one of the members expected another member to be perfect and she kept returning work that wasn’t done good enough in her opinion. She was caught in being focussed on all that was wrong, did not see the good things anymore and went on criticising.  Nothing, even good things, were good enough anymore. The other person felt as if all the work done would never be good enough, felt rejected and was not able to produce anything productive anymore.

  • A goal?  Yes, Perfectionism had become one, in such a way that it had become an obsessive focus on the other person.
  • Impact? The impact was frustration for both parties involved, a real energy drain resulting in conflict and miscommunication.

When looking for perfection in another person becomes the only narrow focus, the outcome is a loss of energy resulting in conflict. 

3. Perfection: stopping us from moving forward – Another team, another story. A project team was working on a new strategy.  They had agreed on goals and actions.  The next project team meeting took place and one person had taken no action on the agreed actions.  When his colleagues asked why not, the answer was that he didn’t feel perfectly prepared to start taking action.  He wasn’t sure that he had all the information needed to move forward.  Everybody had been given the same information and there was really no reason not to do any of the actions agreed.

  • A goal?  Not consciously, the person said, but I was very afraid not to be perfect and loose my face, so I decided not to act.
  • Impact? Frustration amongst the team members because he had not taken action.

When looking for perfection in ourselves for others becomes the only narrow focus, the outcome is that we block ourselves from our true potential and delay our own goals in moving forward. 

4. Perfection: leading ourselves into exhaustion!  – Reaching for the stars is a good thing, as long as it doesn’t sabotage us. Usually people are proud to be a perfectionist.  We live in a fast world these days where lean management, overload of work and being short of resources have become standard.  I was talking to a client who asked me to help her to find a healthy relationship with her striving for perfection.  „When I am afraid not to be perfect, I loose myself, it takes control over me. I loose my efficiency, I spend much more time on things than I normally do and I can’t stop it. I work longer hours and it exhausts me.”

  • A Goal?  Yes, I really worked hard, because I want to be perfect.  If I don’t think I do things perfectly, I feel like a failure.
  • Impact? She realized that she doesn’t involve other people anymore in her work, looses herself into details and looses her efficiency.

When looking for perfection within oneself, it becomes a pressure through which we limit our own resources and drain our own energy with the risk of exhausting ourselves.

What is your relation with Perfection?
  1. When do you produce the perfect results?
  2. Do you expect others to be perfect?
  3. What is the impact on you and on the other people?
  4. Do you expect from yourself to be perfect?
  5. What is the impact on you and on others?
  6. How many times did perfection keep you from moving forward?
If you are interested and curious to learn more about
  1. how this can happen (it is predictable!)
  2. why this happens (yes, there’s a reason for it!)
  3. what you can do about it: new ways to deal with Perfection in a productive way (for you, for others and in interactions with others)
  4. what you need to do to increase your energy and have access to your full potential and spend more time in your positive parts where flow can be experienced
  5. many many more fascinating aspects of communication processes (What the impact of striving for Perfection can be on you and on others is just one example…)
then sign up for our open Process Communication Seminar from September 28 till 30th in Thalwil near Zurich.  I promise you that these 3 days will have a big impact on your professional and personal life! 
Nicole Heimann 
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