In business and life, there is a lot of talk about perfectionism. It’s all crap. The reason it’s all crap is that the term and the feelings are completely based in fear.
The problem with perfectionism is that it comes from fear. It’s a fear based emotion that you aren’t enough, that what you do isn’t enough, or who you are isn’t enough. It’s all in our mental body.
High standards and excellence are ways to challenge yourself to be the best you that you can be.
The vibration and underlying subconscious motivation of a high standard or a standard of excellence are completely different.
Excellence is derived from the knowing place of intuition, inner guidance and a path to your higher self. It is a positive motivator, not a feeling of not being or doing enough.
Perfectionism has an end result in mind. Again, fear based, where once you meet this benchmark, you have somehow made it. The problem with this is that if and when you hit that goal, it is likely that you will find some sort of fault in what you produced be it your effort, or a tangible product you’ve put out. It’s a lose-lose situation.
Having a high standard or a goal of personal excellence is rooted in the journey, not the result. For example, showing up for yourself in moving your body daily or working up to running 5km without being winded. Those are standards of personal excellence. Expecting to be able to do that as you begin that quest is coming from a place of perfectionism. Judging yourself for not finishing fast enough is coming from a place of perfectionism. Celebrating that you accomplished the goal, is an action that was born out of presence on your journey to that goal.
Perfectionism comes from having a specific path figured out from beginning to end. This doesn’t allow for the meandering and exploration of other ways to the end goal.
For me personally, I start with an objective, it could be anything, but the common denominator is that I start with the end result in mind. That’s it.
From there I reverse engineer what it’s going to take me to get there. The only thing I focus on are the steps in front of me. This often leads to a windy road but is never disappointing.
Admittedly, where I end up isn’t exactly where the original objective was, but every single time it is as good or better than the original thought idea or goal.
Let’s look at food for a sec.
You decide to make a lasagne. You find yourself the perfect recipe, then what do you do?
Do you follow it to a “T” and know it’s going to come out perfect? Or, do you use that recipe as a guide, punt with what you have in supplies by adding what you have and omitting what you don’t?
The difference here is that you are using the recipe as a benchmark of perfection instead of a guide to the end result.
Happiness lies in the creativity of spontaneity.
Perfectionism lies in fear, usually a fear of failure. So when you set a benchmark goal for yourself and have only that specific outcome in mind, taking a linear path to the goal is a path walked through fear of non-conformity with your goal.
It is a box, that you place yourself in when you think in terms of a slim and exact outcome.
It isn’t the path of using the critical-thinking skills that you have.
Let’s look at a more spiritual example. You have a deep yearning to connect with Spirit or your spirit guides and you are clear on how that should unfold. So you ask for connection, follow some guru’s advice on how to receive your information from Spirit and you wait. Nothing happens, or what happens isn’t what you expected to happen.
Following the direct path, the one laid out for you, in how to connect with your spirit guides, got you a result less than the one you desired. The reason for this is that on that direct path to connection, you missed the blinking lights that said, “turn here”.
You missed the other ways Spirit communicates with you, through synchronicities, through animals and nature and through your own deep knowing that you are already connected and all you needed to do was listen to Spirit speaking through you as your inner voice of deep knowing. That voice that has already given you your answer even before you followed the guru’s advice.
The path of a perfectionist leaves little room for life’s synchronicities that are conspiring in your favor.
I relearn this lesson every day, as they say in Buddhism, “with a beginner’s mind”. With that state of mind, you go into your thoughts, actions, and goals with an end result but you aren’t focused on the exact path to get there. That is where the magic happens. That is where you discover hidden gems of wisdom and experience that you would never find when you are tied to the exact path and narrowly specific result.
When you set a standard or a benchmark and ditch the known path, you open yourself to a world of possibilities that you ground in compassion, discovery, and awe.
We are conditioned through education to an end result and that there is only one path to get there. This is how the entire education is set up. There is little room for creativity or critical thinking skills. So when you go out into a career or entrepreneurialism, taking the same path most often leads to failure. Work on that level, demands creativity, adaptability and critical thinking and these are skills we aren’t taught in school.
This is why you see the word perfectionism batted around in business, especially where women are concerned. It is an inability to roll with change and as one of my dear friends says, to wobble. Women are taught to show up, be skinny, perfect, multitasking, and that it’s disgraceful to fail, wobble or change course. We are taught to go down with the ship because there is honor only in achieving our original goal. It is an art to shift and pivot but that art lies in our inner approval.
The rest of it is bunk.
There are clear differences between the energy of perfectionism and the energy of standard of excellence. It is in the discernment of these two energies where you will be clear on where you live.
Common signs of Perfectionism:
- You feel you aren’t enough, aren’t doing enough.
- You can’t let it go, or let your mind rest.
- You are looking at what everyone else is doing.
- You need approval.
- You are focused on the minutia.
- There is usually a component of procrastination.
- You are blocked or stunted creatively.
- You may feel paralyzed by fear.
Signs of a Standard of Excellence:
- You are goal oriented but not attached to the path or the precise outcome.
- You feel creatively adaptable.
- You do not need nor want anyone else’s approval.
- You are focused on the big picture yet have a sense of presence in your tasks.
- Even if it’s hard work, the process feels fun.
- You are deriving enjoyment from the journey to the goal.
- You are able to shift and pivot with ease and keep going.
- You are excited about what you are doing.
So you are probably wondering how to shift from living in a state of perfectionism to a state of having a standard of excellence. You may even be a little confused between the two.
It is a skill and a muscle that needs to be exercised. Next time you have a goal or a task, refer to the Signs of a Standard of Excellence above and practice taking action from that place.