Friday, 28 June 2013

Don’t be perfect: just be great.

"The mistake is to imagine that perfection is possible when the very idea is unthinkable." Luis Figo

On a regular basis I am confronted by clients who refer to themselves as being perfectionists. Very often this is stated with a certain pride and belief that this is the only way to be if you want to become a great performer. Unfortunately, the quest for perfection tends to provide far more negatives than it does positives.

The problem is that ‘perfectionists’ are pursuing something that is completely unattainable so rather than focus on what they achieve they tend to focus on the bits that are preventing them from being perfect. So when they make a mistake they will tend to ruminate on the mistake, often beating themselves up in the process. This causes people to mentally rehearse the mistake rather than desired performance thus programming the mind so that it is more likely to repeat the mistake when a similar situation comes about. The pursuit of perfectionism can also lead to anxiety, fear and, ultimately, a loss of motivation, all of which can further hinder performance.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have big goals. In fact, we are all capable of achieving extraordinary things.  We just need to aim for something that we can define. The greatest performers have never been perfect. Even when Nadia Comaneci scored a ‘perfect’ 10 for gymnastics in the Montreal Olympics, there was still room for improvement.

So don’t aim for perfect. Brilliant will do!

Andy Barton
Wider Vision Ltd

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