Are you a perfectionist? Chances are that if you are a high performer, whether in sport, business, law, the performing arts, or any other performance context, you likely view yourself as a perfectionist or have perfectionistic tendencies.
Though we often give perfectionism a negative connotation, perfectionism just like any personality characteristic can have both good and bad qualities. On the "good" side, striving to be perfect (or a better way of framing it would be striving for excellence) and continuously pursuing growth is often essential in the pursuit of success, greatness, and big goals. However, on the flip side as a perfectionist you likely hold yourself to very high standards and constantly reinforce that whatever you are doing or have achieved is not good enough...and you also likely take that a step further and reinforce whether you realize it or not that you're not good enough.
So perfectionism isn't just a characteristic we can have, more importantly, it's a mindset that can be a truly formidable obstacle.
Mindset = established set of attitudes or beliefs
When you have a perfectionistic mindset, your beliefs about your actions, your achievements, and yourself as a whole are always being called into question. You have high standards, and/or have high standards for others or think they also have high standards for you, and thus you're always measuring yourself up against those standards. Since being perfect is in most contexts and situations completely impossible, you develop and reinforce the belief that you're never good enough and that whatever good things you've done or have accomplished don't matter. This then becomes a need you constantly strive to get met as well as a limiting belief with many challenging consequences to things like your confidence, motivation, focus, ability to lead or be a good teammate, and ultimately your performance.
Our attitudes and beliefs are extremely powerful (for example, see the fascinating research being done on the power of mindsets) and often are developed without us being truly aware of it. But this is something we can take control of. You can train your mind to reframe your perfectionistic mindset and choose one that is going to better support your pursuit of excellence. Maybe that means striving to be gritty or brave or resilient or whatever other word or phrase best captures the attitude or belief you want/need to have about yourself, your actions, and your achievements.
You don't have to stop striving to be better, but you could likely benefit from changing the perspective that needing to be better means that you're not good enough. And focusing on being perfect is probably not the most important attitude or belief that is going to help you grow and reach your goals.
What mindset will you train yourself to have?