I have always believed perfectionism was a good thing and that we must strive to be perfect in everything we do. I have discovered that perfection is not attainable and that no one is perfect (except for our Creator). Life can be very frustrating for a perfectionist. I know, because I am a recovering perfectionist. Before, I wanted my life to be perfect, but now, my goal is to be happy. I continue to learn to be the best I can be and achieve what I can at the highest level possible (excellence) which is good enough for me! Psychologist Thomas Greenspon quoted the following differences between excellence and perfectionism in his book, “Moving Past Perfect:”
- “Excellence is risk. Perfection is fear.
- Excellence is effort. Perfection is anger and frustration.
- Excellence is openness to being wrong. Perfection is having to be right.
- Excellence is spontaneity. Perfection is control.
- Excellence is flow. Perfectionism is pressure.
- Excellence is confidence. Perfectionism is doubt.
- Excellence is a journey. Perfectionism is destination.
- Excellence is acceptance. Perfectionism is judgement.
- Excellence is encouraging. Perfection is criticizing.”
Here are a few more to consider that I’ve read elsewhere:
- Excellence is surrender. Perfectionism is consuming.
- Excellence is trust. Perfection is selfishness.
Dr. Greenspon also stated, “Perfectionism does not determine success — talent, energy, and commitment do. Perfectionists are successful despite their perfectionism — not because of it.”