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Avoid The Perfectionist Pitfall - Why Good Enough Is Glorious

Who of us strives for complete perfection with every aspect of our work? 

Yes, I see those hands up! 

Do you secretly know polishing your work until it shines immaculately, is 100% perfect - is not a productive way to spend your time, but yet you do it anyway? 

I think most of us know deep down it is far better to aim for PROGRESS, not perfection. We all want to move our business forward - so why don't we embrace it and just stop "polishing"?  When is good enough, good enough?

 

What is it like to be a perfectionist?

According to Personal Excellence ‘perfectionists’ seek to achieve a perfect element in everything they do. They refuse to accept anything less than this level, no matter what the toll this takes on their health or business.

Perfectionists will set the barrier extremely high in terms of the standards of performance that should be achieved for work and projects.

Sound familiar?

You are often very self-critical and also have high levels of expectations for others too (nothing wrong with that!). However, it can lead to you feeling that anything less than perfect is simply not good enough.

  • Do you leave no room for mistakes?
  • Do you expect things to be done in a certain manner each time?
  • Are you really hard on yourself with an all-or-nothing attitude?

If you are saying a bit fat YES!! to all of the above, then my friend, perhaps you are suffering with perfectionist syndrome...

 

How perfectionist syndrome stops you from moving your business forward 

Now, being the natural inner-perfectionist that I am, I totally love having high standards... and of course we all want to deliver the very best customer experiences we can.  However, having that keen eye for detail and pressure to achieve perfect results in everything you do doesn’t always work out for the best in your business.

The downfalls of having perfectionist syndrome in your business aren't always obvious - until you take a step back and honestly reflect on your performance (this is where a great Business Coach can help you !).

How does perfectionist syndrome stop you from moving your business forward?  Here's 3 business success blockers you might recognise...

 

1. Procrastination A.K.A  Not starting until you are ready = Time Wasted.

When you are simply not starting work until you have the ultimate perfect work conditions or all of the information, or until you are really "READY".... or any other excuse that delays the inevitable... 

Often you only want to start once you have thought out every little detail about how you will set about the tasks, planned it immensely, captured the method - all to ensure the results are perfect.

This adds up massively time wise... delays delays delays - what can be achieved in a day by people who "just get on with it" - can take others weeks... and all the while your competitors are gobbling up progress in your market.  

Time is simply wasted during this procrastination time - remember there is a point of diminishing returns.  At some point, you are likely to get the same results or outcomes whether you start when you are ready - or not! 

So time to get into the habit of starting before you are ready!  

 

2. Micro-managing yourself - Richard Branson probably doesn't... should you?

Another business success blocker is not realising when to stop picking at every little minor detail.  You can end up wasting precious time by just ‘not letting go’ of all the minor details; details which properly wouldn’t matter to anyone else or your customers!

Ask yourself a question that puts your perfectionism and micro-managing in perspective - e.g:

  • will I still get the sale without this tiny thing done? 
  • will a customer still buy and still love my business and my brand?

If you are working in the weeds, then chances are your business will be suffering from lack of strategic leadership.  If you are so busy scrubbing the decks who exactly is steering your ship?  Trust me, the customer won't be bothered if that bit of ribbon you are tying on the box is deep pink or bright pink... perfectionists please don't spend a month debating it when you are starting out (and yes I have had clients in the past who thought this was a strategic issue - needless to say they didn't get very far on driving sales and the important stuff in their business)... 

Remember we are going for Progress, not perfection. 

 

3. Delegating work to others ... and then not letting go. 

If you employ others - I know it is hard but you will need to learn to trust that they have the skills to make good choices in their role.

If not why did you hire them?  If your people are not making good choices - then discuss it with them and train them to do so.... but don't fall into the Perfectionist trap of whipping the task off them and doing it yourself overnight because "only you can do it properly"!!!! 

How is that going to ever scale ?

It is likely, in my experience, that the people you employ will get it at least 80% right, and yes, whilst the perfectionist in you will always feel like you could have done it better, remember it has freed you up to do more strategic work.

The work that actually needs your personal CEO time and focus because it grows your business. 

It is vital for Perfectionists to learn how to delegate tasks to others and enjoy the freedom from those tasks, rather than the worry that it won’t be done like you do it. Remember to recognise that if your staff get the task done 80% then probably in most cases, good enough, is good enough.

By delegating a piece of work to others and genuinely "letting go"... you are taking a baby step towards moving your business towards greater success. So, don’t sit there and panic about what others are doing with their tasks; make sure they are trained, give your people the support they need and then let go. 

 

Set Quality Goals & Attention To Detail Standards To Keep You On Track

There will always be some elements of work, where attention to detail is key and you really want the work to stand out and be perfect.  You clearly don’t need to jeopardise quality.

But Perfectionists usually never have an end goal, as they keep working on projects and fiddling with various elements continuously.

Your end goal should be a balance between efficiency and quality. Set yourself some new standards and goals - ones in which you can identify the work as  ‘good enough’ - and only work until you meet that quality goal or standard... and not anything more.

Ask yourself if working further on any project is for perfectionist gain, or if you would be adding genuine value that is necessary to the result. If it's not genuine added value, then recognise when is the right time to stop and submit the work.

 

Perfectionism is actually all about Control.

And controlling everything just doesn’t work if you want to scale in a modern business world. 

 

Curbing control

If you want to control everything and you get picky with all the finer details, I can promise you will struggle to scale your business. You will remain small because your day to day actions are small.  They are in the weeds.  It's that simple. 

  • If you could just let go of the reins a little, you could get freelancers or VA’s to take on elements of the business, whilst you focus on the parts of the business you enjoy.
  • If you can structure your business to free up time, you don’t ever have to reach full capacity and turn clients or customers away.

However, if you are determined to take control of everything, you will struggle delegating tasks to others and ultimately because you get sucked into all the detailed doing, you won't feel fulfilled.  You will begin to wonder why you started this business in the first place.

So it is time to begin to let go if you want to move to the next level and help your business grow. 

 

It is time to embrace when good enough is good enough and start the process of delegating yourself out of a job.

 

The Baby Steps

  • Get started by delegating small tasks or parts of projects you feel most comfortable with and can happily let go.
  • Use a review process after task completion to help you feel in control. 
  • Then gradually lift that review process to end of hour, end of day, end of week etc - expanding the timeframe between your check-ins.
  • As your confidence grows - delegate the more meaty or scary tasks.
  • As you scale your business, you will always want some level of performance review and control to drive success and quality - but remember just not at the mico level. 

If you follow the advice above, you will soon find ditching the perfectionist syndrome becomes easier and that you start to enjoy being a business owner a little bit more!

 

Make It Happen In Your Business

Perfectionist Syndrome and working in the weeds will, in time, affect your business and stop it from moving forward. You won't be able to keep up with the demands of the workload, whilst ensuring you reach your perfect standards. Something will eventually give, make sure it isn’t your business’ growth.

 

Next Steps:

  • Recognise when your perfectionist traits are kicking in - become aware of what type of activities trigger this. 
  • Remind yourself how your perfectionist tendencies can negatively impact your business and get in the way of growth in this face-paced modern business world.
  • Recognise when good enough, really is good enough - whether that’s your own work or tasks that you have delegated to others.
  • Set quality goals and attention to detail standards and stop once these are reached!
  • Put in place structure and review points to help you still feel in control, even when you have delegated tasks out to others. 

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