Why Encourage Excellence instead of Perfection

by Aug 2, 2021

Business Innovation Brief Best Article

Are you a perfectionist? Or do you strive for excellence?

I’m afraid you’re mistaken if you assume these are the same thing. Although they are connected, they are the opposites of the same coin. They are so opposed to one another that the only way to accomplish excellence is to not want perfection. So, let’s look at the major distinctions between the two.

Perfectionism is concerned with “doing the thing right,” with how things APPEAR and with whether others think it was done correctly.

It’s all about “doing the right thing” when it comes to excellence. It focuses on the REASON for a task as well as the RESULTS required for it to be successful.

Excellence is about self-accountability. Doing your very best to be the best, because you know that is the only way to become fulfilled in life. Whereas perfectionism is tied to how you look to others, it’s also seeking to be the best, but for not for the sake of personal fulfillment, rather for the sake of having the ego stroked by others.

Perfectionism is a thief of time, sucking the life out of you like a vampire draining blood. It bullies and criticizes you, demanding impossible results because nothing you do is good enough. It forces you to try to live up to a fantasy that isn’t real. Perfection will never be attained.

“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” ~ Harriet Braiker

The pursuit of excellence keeps you focused on the important things, gives you energy, and can even act as a cheerleader. There is no harm to one’s self-esteem, as there is with perfectionism.

Perfectionism reduces your productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness, and, more importantly, it disrupts your mental and emotional well-being. Productivity, on the other hand, is ingrained into the search for excellence.

“Striving for excellence is a growth mindset that serves your desire to become the best version of yourself, without judgements.”

Know The Difference

We have high expectations when we strive for excellence. There is nothing wrong with having high standards in general. It may be beneficial. High standards can motivate us to improve, solve issues, and achieve larger output.

Perfectionism, on the other hand, is an impossible ideal to meet, with no room for mistakes and no tolerance for failures.

“Perfectionists have unrealistically high standards, that are by nature self-defeating.”

High standards may be difficult to attain, but they are realistic. They are things that, with effort, practice, and perseverance, we can fairly achieve. Pursuing perfection, on the other hand, is pointless. It is impossible to attain. It’s a form of ego attachment that does not serve the greater good of anyone at all.

Despite this, perfectionists strive for unrealistically high standards, even if it harms their health, relationships, and self-worth.

Having impossible-to-meet expectations brings stress to your life. It’s discouraging since you’ll never be able to live up to your impossible ideals. As a result, no matter how much you do, you will always feel like a failure when seeking perfection.

Setting impossibly high standards for others, such as your family and co-workers, leads to nagging, irritation, and disputes, all of which erodes your relationships and demoralizes everyone around you.

Mistakes are Not Failures

People who strive for excellence acknowledge that mistakes are unavoidable and appreciate the lessons they can take from them. They have a different mindset about life. They realize that life is a journey and taking risks is about growing. As a result, those striving for excellence are likely to take more calculated risk and achieve higher levels of growth and performance than those seeking to be perfect.

“Those striving for excellence, don’t allow their failures to define who they are, they only see lessons helping them grow and become better.”

Perfectionists, on the other hand, see mistakes as indications of their, and your incompetence or inferiority. They expect to know everything, to outperform everyone, to always know the right thing to do or say, to be flawless, and to never disappoint anyone. This is not only unachievable, but it is also a huge burden to live with.

Value The Process

When we strive for excellence or high standards, we appreciate the process as well as the final product. We appreciate that the experience, learning, enjoyment, relationships, and memories we create along the way are usually just as essential as the result.

We are better able to withstand life’s ups and downs when we appreciate the process because we understand that the outcome isn’t always a reflection of our work, abilities, or intelligence.

Failure to meet a goal, whether it’s winning a 10% increase, or arranging a picture-perfect birthday party for your child, is especially frustrating for perfectionists because they are results-driven rather than process-driven. They are more likely to focus on what they did incorrectly and see no value in executing anything imperfectly.

“In most cases perfectionist don’t take the same risks as those pursuing excellence and end up stunting their personal development.”

Perfectionist thinking can also be used to explain a win-at-all-costs mentality. In the name of winning or succeeding, many perfectionists probably end up jeopardizing their health and relationships. We can’t appreciate the learning that comes from mistakes, and we can’t enjoy the process of learning, growing, and healthy living when we have a perfectionist mindset.

Encourage Excellence

When we strive for excellence, we are satisfied with a job well done. We learn from our mistakes rather than allowing them to define us. We appreciate the process as well as the ultimate result of our efforts.

Striving for excellence helps us be adaptable, with the ability to change our standards and goals as needed. We don’t fall into the trap of all-or-nothing thinking or self-criticism. 

Excellence is about the process and it’s living life through the lens of integrity. It’s about doing things with consideration and higher purpose, and this paves the way for others to emulate striving to be their own best out of encouragement of what is possible.

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