I am a perfectionist, there is no way of getting around that. It’s in my nature and if not managed, it can hold me back from moving forwards, due to a need for everything to be just right before finalising a report, making a decision, putting something new out there.
Contrast this with learning, which I also love. If you’re learning something new there is no way that you can be perfect.
My tendency towards perfectionism can actually be good for learning – it means I’m focussed, determined and push myself to get better as quickly as possible. Yes it frustrates me when I can’t do something well (something my piano teacher would point out on a regular basis) and it is absolutely necessary to accept that you cannot be perfect when learning, but it is something that drives me forwards.
We all know the phrase “practice makes perfect”. I’ve been thinking about it a lot since writing it in a previous blog. As mentioned there, I’m a big fan of the power of practice, but unless you’ve been doing something for a very very long time, it’s unlikely you’re going to be perfect. Even the highest regarded experts in the world make mistakes in live environments, so really there’s no such thing as perfect. I prefer the word proficient – which means you’re extremely skilled and experienced, just not “perfect”, which is practically impossible to achieve.
Understanding there’s no such thing as perfect also brings the drive to continually practice those things you want to improve. Take public speaking for example – I’ve attained a certain level of proficiency where I can confidently deliver a speech, run a workshop, chair a meeting etc, but I don’t think I’ll ever want to stop practising. Without regular practice, my confidence is likely to fall. I also believe that there is always going to be something to learn, a new technique to try, a way to improve.
Embracing that perfectionist part of you that wants to be the best you can be, whilst accepting that perfect is not reality is key to learning – and with practice comes proficiency in whatever you want to learn.