It’s guest post Monday! This post is written by Matt McMorris who is a pastor and blogger. You can read his blog about increasing leadership here. You can also connect with him through Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to have a post featured on my site then click here.
I’m a recovering perfectionist. I asked a few others if they wanted to have a regular meeting for the sake of helping each other recover, but we could not find the right time, place, agenda, room temperature, room set up, or group name. Oh well!
But I do know that perfectionism, while masked in looking like a good thing, can often turn into a serious problem; especially for leaders.
Leaders who deal with perfectionism often struggle in several areas:
- They frustrate their followers by focusing on the problems.
- They miss deadlines that cause ripple effects.
- They are aggravated because they are never satisfied.
- They are typically workaholics.
Perfectionism can negatively impact your work or ministry more than you realize. In an attempt to make things better, they often become worse.
If you disagree with me, you are probably a perfectionist. In fact, you probably not only disagree with me, but have concerns about the wording and layout of this post. Not quite right, is it?
Let’s consider seven realities prior to making a snap judgment about the “rightness” or “wrongness” of this post.
1. Only God was, is, or ever will be perfect.
This should be enough. Perfectionists have only fooled themselves into thinking that this is even a possibility. Only God can do things perfectly. We can do things well. We might even be able to do them better with more time, but “perfect” is too lofty for even the most gifted.
2. Good enough is not the same as your best.
A perfectionist will often say, “I just don’t think it is good enough.” That’s a wrong approach to take in critiquing your work. You will be far better off asking, “Is this my best?” At some point, it has to be. Your best won’t be perfect. Forgive yourself for that because it is impossible! Let yourself off the hook!
3. Deadlines must take priority.
It is imperative, in order to function in society, that you meet deadlines. Perfect or not – you have to have the project completed on time. Turn it in. Post it. Ship it. Whatever it is you need to do – do it on time every time! Keeping your word to finish on time is more important than changing non-essential information in your project.
4. Perfectionism typically only reveals itself in certain areas.
As a perfectionist, I realize that I typically only strive for perfection in certain areas. For example, I may want a blog post to be perfect, or a service flow, but I may let my relationships with certain people get out of line.
Think of it this way. Your boss needs a project by a certain time. It is basically finished on time, but it isn’t perfect. So you explain to him that it isn’t quite ready. He is frustrated because he was counting on it. You complain to your spouse that he gets so irritated over something as petty as a few extra hours needed to make it perfect.
Your relationship to your boss doesn’t matter to you, but the project does. Perfectionism is often a “pick and choose” thing.
5. Perfectionism is often more about pride than it is helping others.
Have you ever stopped to think about why you want it perfect? Usually it isn’t because changing those few things is the difference maker between career or ministry success and failure. It’s not usually going to be a deal breaker. We want it perfect because we care about what other people think about us!
6. Remember who you are ultimately doing it for.
Why do we work? Why do we create? Who are we trying to please in the first place?
As a believer, I must remind myself that I am to “do all to the glory of God.” He doesn’t expect perfection from me. He expects me to offer myself to Him as a vessel for His use. He will do with me and make of me whatever He wishes.
7. Perfectionism can limit your influence.
It’s hard to work with a perfectionist. They have to make all the decisions. They tend to be micro-managers.
Leading that way is a real turn off to most people. Helping your followers succeed and be the best they can be is for more important than seeing to it that every last anal detail is… perfect!
So, the next time you start working on that project, ask yourself a question, am I really going to let pride and insignificant details stand in the way of just good ole fashioned productivity?
Question: What are some other reasons why perfectionism is a problem?