Perfectionism

The problem with perfectionism is it’s pass/fail and 100% is the passing grade.

Client relationships are often pass/fail too. And if you suffer from perfectionism, any mistake, anything that slips through the net equals a failed project and a failed relationship.

The thing is, the client isn’t looking for perfect. In fact, they don’t even know what perfect looks like. They hired you because you know something they don’t, have expertise they don’t have, because they trusted you.

Bouncing from one failure to the next obviously won’t grow your business. But being in business also means being prepared to iterate. Is it perhaps that you want your work to be perfect on your first attempt? There’s no such thing as perfect but you can always improve.

Are you an imposter or on your way to mastery?

I’ve been thinking a lot about perfectionism lately. My particular brand of perfectionism is the kind that sneaks up behind you when you least expect it. It’s not there nagging at me every moment of the day but it has a way of showing up when I need it least.

Usually it’s when I’ve mad a mistake. My reflex response to any error is to tell myself I’m a complete failure, an imposter.

But lately I’ve noticed two things happening. One is related to finding my niche. In the past year, I’ve been honing my craft with my ideal clients - creatives and very small businesses. As such, the work I’m doing is starting to repeat. I’m starting to know my clients and their needs better. So when I make an error of some kind, usually I know exactly how to fix it. The mistakes are smaller. They have less impact. I feel more like an expert, less like I’m play acting.

The other thing I’ve noticed is how I view my mistakes. I’ve started to see my mistakes as less like incompetence and failure and more like learning opportunities on my way to mastery.