Podcast Episode 13: Perfectionism

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Perfectionism is the belief that you need to be perfect in order to be accepted, valued, or to succeed. Perfectionism can be quite harmful to your careers. In this episode we’ll discuss: 

  • Understand the sneaky ways it shows up
  • How it robs us of satisfaction and celebration 
  • Don’t confuse perfectionism with ambition
  • Understand the root cause of perfectionism
  • Steps to overcome perfectionism

Experiencing failure and mistakes is necessary for our growth. These feelings don’t hurt us. They feel uncomfortable but they don’t actually hurt us.

Read the Transcript
Hey you, welcome.
Love that you’re here exploring how to refresh your thoughts to create a more successful  career and life. 

Today, I have some thoughts and insights to share with you today on perfectionism and perfectionists. 

We know them. We love them. Maybe we are them.

Many people take pride in being called a perfectionist. Who doesn’t want to be perfect or thought of as being perfect?

Sounds great, right?

But I am here to pop your perfectionist bubble.

Perfectionism  shows up in different  ways for different people.

At the core, I’m talking about how you think you need to be perfect in order to be accepted, valued, or to succeed. 

It could show up through your thinking that ‘i’m never good enough’ or you may think you could  have  done a better job.

You have such unrealistic expectations of yourselves and you attached performance and failure to your worth. 

There’s a cycle of unrealistic expectations that are harmful.

First constant criticism is harmful because it can become your default mindset.

The second way it’s harmful is that you are always approaching your challenges from a place of failure avoidance. 

So many of your professional (and personal!) challenges stem from perfectionism. 

If you are a perfectionist, do any of these sound like you?

You live in the extremes: In your opinion, you carry a scorecard and you are either winning or failing. 

This shows up either by not achieving goals because if it’s not perfect you can’t complete the goal. 

It also shows up in that if things don’t go your way, you are negatively affected by the outcome.

You only feel good when you get validation from others. 

This one really is a woof because if you believe if you dont get validation you wont feel good about yourself and your performance. 

You are like an addict always looking for the fix

You’re afraid of looking bad or being called incompentent and then you approach your work with fear and apprehension. 

You take feedback personally and assume others are talking about you. You don’t realize that you are not the reference point.

Your self worth rises and falls because you believe that self worth is conditional and achievement based. 

Your identity is attached to achievement AND others commenting on your achievement. 

You’re always waiting for the complement and when it doesn’t happen your mood is affected. 

Again, it’s like the addict needing the fix.

You got rules. There’s a manual. 

You may have even laminated and spiral bound it in your mind. 

But no one else knows what’s in the manual but one thing is for sure you hold yourself to a higher standard than others. 

You are grading and scoring yourself and your peers and they all feel it

There is no satisfaction because you are always looking for the way to improve. 

You never pause to see the success you’ve created. You don’t feel proud of yourself. 

You don’t let yourself celebrate and instead you look for what could have been better. 

You focus on what’s lacking. 

The challenge here is that you never are fulfilled so you are always seeing the dompinine hit of more. But dopamine is about the anticipation. 

You want the next win because you think it will make you feel good, or so you think. Or maybe it’s the next one. 

You keep chasing what’s never going to make you feel good enough. Perfection is needed for you to feel good about yourself.

Perfectionism is not the same as doing your best or having high expectations of yourself and others.

I don’t want to confuse perfectionism with ambition.

Striving for big goals is great. It’s how we grow. But a lot of perfectionists don’t achieve goals because they are usually never done.

To loosely quote Brene Brown, you think if you acted and looked perfectly you can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement and shame. 

You don’t want to get hurt, be vulnerable or experience failure.

Experiencing failure and mistakes is necessary for our growth. These feelings don’t hurt us. They feel uncomfortable but they don’t actually hurt us.

I’m not saying lower your expectations. 

When you begin to create awareness of what perfectionism is doing to you, your health, your relationships, your career, you can start to have compassion for yourself.

You defaulted to perfectionism as a survival technique. But it’s time to begin to peel back the layers of your thinking so you can shift from this destructive behavior.

Where does all of this come from and therefore how do you manage it?

I believe the root cause of perfectionism is that you have a deep belief that your value is conditional. That you need to be perfect in order to feel good. 

You also probably think you need to be busy to feel good.

You think if you look, feel or act busy you are worthwhile.

Your value is never conditional; it’s never based on your productivity, as a human you have inherent value.

But there are so many things you do that can’t be measured or quantified. 

The way you show up with a positive attitude. The way you really listen to your clients to make sure they feel heard. 

The way you help out your teammates when they are stuck on a strategy challenge

If you feel you suffer from perfectionism, I want you to look for all the things that are good. Good is a good place to start.

This is a pen and paper exercise. Make a list. Brainstorm it. 

As a gallup trained strength coach, I help people dig into their strengths and understand where their talents show up.

I help them understand how to connect thought work to their strengths so they can amplify and leverage them for the most impact.

If you don’t have clarity on your strengths there are free tools online or you can work with a career coach. 

You can also ask trusted friends or family or lift comments from your past reviews. There’s good there. Find it.

Change your perfectionist beliefs by asking yourself if what you are doing is perfect or is it good. 

Good is a great place to start. 

You know the expression don’t let perfect get in the way of good. It’s true.

Even Apple doesn’t wait for perfection. 

They ship on good. That’s why my phone is now on 14 point 5 point 1. 

They ship on good and update on the next round when they get new information.

One of my teachers says that most unproductive and Ineffective behaviors stem from fear or resistance.

With perfectionism you have fear around your self worth. 

You want others to give you positive feedback so you can feel your value. 

This is operating on a fear based mindset.

Perfectionists want to control and have a lot of resistance is about what’s happening around you. 

Once you accept what is, there lies the opportunity.

You are not giving up. When I think ‘I know best’ from a place of command or control, I probably will miss a lot of details. 

There are other ways to get the results you want.

Acceptance allows your brain to pause beat and allows space for a pivot. 

It allows you to be innovative, to gather new thoughts, opinions, and not react from the emotion of resistance.

You are accepting where you are because only then can you find new thoughts and new ways of being.

Learning how to create your thoughts and therefore your reality is the secret to life. Trust me my friend.

That’s what I got for you today. Before I go, who are you getting your support from? I’d be honored to help you with your career challenges. You can learn more on my website


Alright my friends. Have a fab day, and I’ll see you next time

Tune into The Refresh Your Career Podcast Available on all streaming apps. https://jillgriffin.buzzsprout.com/

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Tune into The Refresh Your Career Podcast Available on all streaming apps. https://jillgriffin.buzzsprout.com/