I recently heard it said that in a job interview if you are asked what your greatest weakness is you should give some variant of the response that you are a perfectionist.
Apparently this is quite a common line of thought. I’m not sure why. To me it has no redeeming potential. From the outset I would never want a perfectionist working for me, especially someone who identifies themselves as such.
Perfectionism is crippling. It stagnates, it stalls, and it can even lead to a reversal of momentum. I have met people over the years who are incredible artists; musicians, writers, painters etc, but they also have perfectionistic tendencies and are too frightened to let go of their work before it is perfect (it goes without saying that there is no such thing).
They can sabotage their own creative growth and development, and deprive the world of what they have to offer. And they are incredibly frustrating to work with because apparently nothing they do is ever good enough.
If someone told me they were a perfectionist then it would all but end their chances of working with me.
I want the opposite. I want someone who has accepted internal permission to be imperfect as they grow. To make mistakes. To get things wrong. This kind of acceptance means that they will try and be willing to be creative and push themselves and the rest of us. I don’t want someone who is consciously and negatively judging the results of their own efforts. That quickly rubs off on everyone else.
Accepting imperfection is accepting humanness.
To grant permission for imperfection is not to say ‘I want you to do a half-arsed, sloppy job and I don’t care how bad it is’. It’s not granting permission for laziness or substandard work.
In fact it has the opposite expectations; all your effort, all your imagination, all of what you have to offer must go into what you do. You are striving for the best, all the while accepting that you are and will always be, imperfect.
And if/when things don’t come off as we had dreamed then that’s OK. We learn from what we did and we try again. What’s important is simply learning to release the unrealistic expectations you have of yourself, and therefore of everyone else.
If you can embrace your own imperfection then it makes the world a better place for the rest of us because you are more likely to accept everyone else’s flaws, failures, and human imperfections.
Embrace Your Imperfection
You may not be where you want to be yet, but if you think about it, you’re no longer where you once were either. You have good reason to believe that you can trust yourself going forward. Not because you’ve always made the right choices, but because you survived the bad ones, and taken small steps in the right direction. Focus on the right things and just do the best you can. Don’t allow yourself to be crippled by stress and self-loathing. Everything is only as it is. There’s no reason to let it destroy you. Breathe. Let every moment be what it’s going to be. What’s meant to be will come your way, what’s not will fall away. And remember that a great gift may not always be wrapped as you expect.
– (From 10 Gifts You Deserve to Give Yourself by Marc and Angel)
So…don’t be perfect. Don’t even try or pretend to be.
Self-Diagnosed perfectionism is not an attractive thing, and if you’re not careful you will attract harsher judgement on what you do put out, because everyone will be holding it against your professed need to be ‘perfect’ . It’s a very dangerous word to use.