Our new clients usually think I’m joking.
“80% is perfect.”
I can hear the gears in their brain grinding.
“80%…” they struggle to let the full sentence escape their lips.
“…is perfect, that’s right.” I complete the statement for them if I have to.
Are you infected with the modern plague known as perfectionism?
If so, read on and discover a totally different way to live, learn, work, and grow.
Perfectionism is Grotesque, Awful, Horrifying, and Destructive
Step #1 in the process of overcoming perfectionism is turning it from something admirable and wonderful to what it really is: something damaging and awful.
Modern society instills perfectionism in its members for reasons I’m still trying to figure out.
Certain zones of society are worse at this than others.
The business world is much more interested in getting things done than in getting them done perfectly.
The academic world, on the other hand, runs rampant with perfectionism.
So, the longer you’ve spent in academia, the deeper the perfectionism infection can run inside your mind.
Since by definition all therapists, counselors, naturopaths, speech language pathologists, physical therapists, and other wellness practice owners have acquired advanced schooling and degrees…an unhealthy dose of perfectionism is practically guaranteed.
Accepting that we have a problem is the start of healing.
If you’re reading these words, then it’s incredibly likely that you are suffering under the unsupportable weight of perfectionism.
Behold the Ill Consequences of Perfectionism
Society’s pro-perfectionism story goes like this:
Things have to be done “just right.” If they aren’t done the right way, they’re wrong. And if they’re done wrong, then bad things will happen. So, you either do things right or you don’t do them at all.
Something like that.
But here’s what perfectionism does to you if you let it take root in your mind:
First off, perfectionism at best slows you down.
Every project takes longer because you have to work on it and work on it and work on it until you can’t conceive of any way to improve it (which doesn’t mean you’ve actually created something perfect, by the way…it just means you can’t see the forest for the trees anymore).
Of course, being slowed down is the best you can expect from perfectionism.
More often, perfectionism leads to delay, procrastination, and paralysis.
In his book The 80% Approach, entrepreneurial thinker and coach Dan Sullivan links perfectionism with procrastination. According to Mr. Sullivan, procrastination is the logical response to a perfectionistic attitude toward activities.
The slow-down spawned by perfectionism cascades its ill effects throughout your life.
You take less action (because most/all action is imperfect).
Therefore, you get fewer results.
You have less momentum.
You’re caught in your own inner critic’s clutches.
Which sparks a negative feedback loop that slows you down further.
As your results decrease (or never even occur in the first place), you become frustrated.
You judge yourself – as ineffective, or even incapable.
All because you’re holding yourself to an unattainable ideal. The ideal of “100% is perfect.”
80% is Perfect – Literally
80% is Perfect because no human effort is perfect out of the gate.
80% is Perfect because when you take action, you get out of the stands and into the game where you can learn and iterate faster and faster.
80% is Perfect because life is messy – but time is passing you by whether you’re frozen in perfectionism or taking messy imperfect but beautiful action.
80% is Perfect because it’s all we can do – and that liberates us to do what we can and keep improving every step of the way.
One 80% layers on the next. No one said you can only do something once. In fact, the quicker you get into action, the sooner you’ll have something to show for your efforts.
As many writers have said, “Great writing emerges from great editing.” You get something out and then you get to work on honing that writing by going back over it.
But if you never let yourself write that imperfect first draft?
Then there’s nothing to edit. There’s nothing to see.
And the world is all the poorer for its lack of your creative output.
Cure Yourself of the Modern Plague of Perfectionism
The cure for perfectionism involves letting yourself off the hook and getting into immediate motion.
What’s the action you know you need to take – that you truly want to take – but you haven’t been letting yourself due to this perfectionism that’s been taunting and haunting you?
Take the first piece of that action as soon as you can. Right now, ideally.
Get that first 80% try out ASAP.
Then, set it aside for a bit. Go do something else for a few hours or a couple days.
Come back to it later.
And when you come back to it, approach it in the spirit of “80% is perfect.”
How can you make it just a little better? (i.e., not perfect – just better)
How do you chop down a tree?
One thwack of the axe at a time.
It’s the same with any worthy project.
Perfectionism wants to hold you in stasis. It wants to keep you scared solid. Frozen.
I’ve seen far too many wellness practice owners tortured into struggle and poverty due to just this: the plague of perfectionism.
You really don’t have to suffer another day with this perfectionistic self-torture.
The cure happens one action at a time. But when you get into motion and start taking imperfect action, you’ll be amazed how easily you can put perfectionism in your rear view mirror (until its next gambit begins the cycle anew).
We’re Looking for the Practice Owners Hungry to Grow
There are way too many people in need of your help for you to slow yourself down with the heavy weight of perfectionism.
If you know you have been letting perfectionism prevent you from making the impact you know you’re capable of, we’re here to help.