Is Perfectionism Choking Your Talents?

According to Psychology Today, perfectionism is an ever-growing phenomenon, especially over the last 30 years. If you want to be successful, you need to be a perfectionist, don’t you? The question is whether this is a healthy trend or one we should resist. Is perfectionism good or bad? Let’s look at both sides. 

Perfectionism Definition

If you look up perfectionism in the Oxford Dictionary, this is what you’ll find: 



mass noun

  • 1Refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.
    1. 1.1Philosophy A doctrine holding that perfection is attainable, especially the theory that human moral or spiritual perfection should be or has been attained.

So, are you a perfectionist? Do you reject any standard that is short of perfection? Do you think perfection is attainable? And if you are, what do you think, is perfectionism good or bad? 

Common Characteristics of a Perfectionist

According to Paula Davis-Laack, a self-confessed recovering perfectionist writing for Forbes, perfectionists share seven traits: 

  1. Fear of Failure: Because of their unstoppable desire for perfection, the fear of failure often kicks in and stops perfectionists from even trying. Instead of embracing the learning process, perfectionists are so afraid to make mistakes, that they often don’t want to try. Procrastination sets in due to the fear of failure. 
  2. It’s Got to Be All or Nothing: Perfectionists don’t do things by half. In fact, even 90 per cent won’t be good enough. So, a perfectionist is never willing to accept small setbacks. Instead, she or he prefers to give up.
  3. Inability to Take Criticism: Perfectionists are not good at taking criticism, even of the constructive kind. When someone points out a flaw they become defensive. They struggle to take on criticism and embrace the spirit of learning and growth.
  4. Rigidity: Perfectionists are often inflexible in their approach and slow to integrate contributions from others.
  5. Overcriticism: Perfectionists tend to be hard on themselves and those around them. 
  6. Reluctance to Delegate: Most of the time, perfectionists want to carry out a task themselves rather than delegating it to someone else. This is because they feel no one can do reach the same lofty standards.
  7. Desire to Control: Perfectionists tend to try to control other people’s behaviour to stop them from making mistakes. 
is perfectionism good or bad?

Is Perfectionism Good or Bad?

Let’s look at both sides of perfectionism. You can then answer the question, is perfectionism good or bad yourself.

The Good

  • Drive to succeed and achieve
  • Attention to detail
  • Perseverance and stamina
  • Willingness to work hard

These are all very laudable qualities, attributes employers and superiors appreciate. Moreover, perfectionism is one of the main ingredients of the success of many high-fliers. On the downside, perfectionism can lead to burnout which leads us to the disadvantages of perfectionism.

The Bad

  • Inflexibility
  • Unwillingness to learn
  • Unwillingness to take criticism
  • Failure to accept contributions from others
  • All-or-Nothing attitude
  • Excess desire to control
  • Procrastination due to fear of failure

In excess, perfectionism can become a noose around your neck. It can stop you from growing, in fact, it can stop you from trying in the first place. For those around you, your perfectionism can be a source of frustration and a hindrance to meaningful teamwork. 

Why Has Perfectionism Become So Prevalent?

It should come as no surprise that perfectionism is becoming more and more prevalent. Perfection is all around us, especially in advertising and the media. Everywhere you turn, you’re seeing flawless faces and immaculate bodies. 

Physical beauty has become one of the main life goals along with success and perfect wealth. Images of this perfection are flooding us daily and making us feel insecure without us realising it. You begin to think that you’re not good enough, not rich enough, not beautiful enough, not successful enough. What do you do? You become a perfectionist and try to achieve unattainable beauty, success, and wealth. That’s why you’re a perfectionist. 

You don’t stop to think. Even though you’re aware of the photo-shop phenomenon, you still think your pores look ugly. 

Today’s perfectionism is a real problem causing serious mental health issues for people in all walks of life. 

You’d have to conclude that excess perfectionism is bad, but is your perfectionism choking your talents?

Does Perfectionism Stop You from Developing your Talents?

Do you have a passion or talent you would – in your heart of hearts – like to develop? Do you refuse to try because you’re scared you won’t be good enough? If your answer is affirmative, chances are, you’re a perfectionist. Perfectionism and insecurities go hand in hand, as do perfectionism and fear of failure. So, what do you do? Do you procrastinate before opting for nothing in the all-or-nothing approach? If so, perfectionism is, indeed, choking your talents. But how do you break out of the perfectionism jail?

Leave Perfectionism to the Gods

No one is perfect, nor is anyone’s work perfect. The best we can hope for is to be authentic and whole while doing the best we can. Human beings are flawed which is something, we all share despite the images that surround us. 

Nature is a vast display of perfection in imperfection. On any tree, you’ll find flawless along with ill-shaped leaves. You’re the same. The key is to embrace both, your perfection and your imperfection. 

Let Love and Creativity Overrule Your Perfectionism

Instead of focusing on your inability to use your talents for perfection, focus on the joy of using them. Most people love what they are good at, so let that love carry you through. Cast aside self-doubt at once and allow yourself to be swept off your feet by the creative process. 

Before you know it, your talent will begin to grow, allowing you to witness the growth of something beautiful and whole. In the process, you’ll grow stronger and truer to who you really are. 

What kind of a talent you want to develop is secondary. The important thing is to try and be willing to learn.

Use your talents!

Is Perfectionism Good or Bad?

Perfectionism can be a good thing but only in moderation. Keep trying your hardest to do the very best you can but don’t beat yourself up if you fail. Everyone is learning. Never ever strive for unattainable, personal perfection. 

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