I’ve had a slight Symmetry OCD since I was a kid. Obsessions with this OCD include the persistent, mostly irrational need for things to ‘feel’ symmetrical, or be perfectly aligned, or to get to some version of “just right”. Accompanying compulsions include repeated rearranging, evening up, constant realigning and even repeated tapping. It’s not bad in my instance, I just have slight urges every now and then.
What a relief when I later on found out that I am not alone in having obsessions and compulsions like this. I know normal people that have an irrational need to constantly clean everything or, say, make the volume on the TV an even number or a multiple of 3. I’m sure you know someone with an irrational tick as well. Those are all mild OCD’s.
Perfectionism as an entrepreneur can just as easily evolve into an irrational tick that can have a toll on your efficiency. As an entrepreneur, the last thing you’d want is to have a need to be perfect in a sport where the dynamics are ever-changing. Still, when most entrepreneurs have a picture locked within their heads, it’s hard to get it out. What they however overlook is the negative effects that are associated with being the perfectionist they cling on to being.
Perfectionism is refusal to accept any standard short of your perceived idea of what is perfect.
All successful entrepreneurs share similar values. A good entrepreneur has the ability to accept correction, be a team player, be productive, dream, effect proper time management, and have good networking skills, to mention a few. All these values do not see eye to eye with perfectionism.
Perfectionism is the enemy of correction.
A business entrepreneur must always have a plan. A perfectionist, when presenting his/her business plan, believes that it is the finished work he has done and hence is not likely to consider any input that is going to be given to him/her. A better entrepreneur would see other inputs after sharing said business plan as helpful.
On the other hand, a perfectionist may see the input given as criticism of his/her work. Most perfectionists assume that their standards are the highest standards and hence are not ready to listen to what others have to say. They would always come up with reasons why what you are recommending would not work and for that reason, they stick to what they originally planned on doing, forgoing the opportunities that outside recommendations can bring to the table.
Perfectionism is the enemy of development.
Being obsessed with being right is the main characteristic of a perfectionist. Their standard is the yard stick by which any and every input is measured. In my opinion, perfectionism prevents you the entrepreneur from coming up with a perfect product, by hindering the implementation of helpful input.
The truth is, perfectionists do not usually consider or apply corrections put forth to them. By missing out on chances to better their products and services, a perfectionist gives room for competitors to surpass them. One major setback from being a perfectionist is the fact that it gets difficult for you to learn from others. This therefore reduces the rate at which you develop. Somehow, most people who call themselves perfectionist believe that they have had more experience than many and hence do not believe that anyone has anything new to teach them, forgetting that the world is evolving, and new things come up every day.
Perfectionism is the enemy of team building.
For a business to be said to have grown, the size of workers is one of the measuring tools. This is normally expanded through team building. Perfectionists however have great difficulty in doing this. They do not do it consciously, but they always end up doing it. A perfectionist will rather work alone and get things done according to their standards than to work with others that he/she feels will stifle progress.
When working as a good team, everyone’s input is considered, and everything is built from scratch thinking outside the box. When working with a perfectionist, said person comes to the team with what they expect to be done, and how they expect it to be done. They may come asking for what everyone thinks is the right way to go about things but at the end of the day, what they had in mind is what is going to be used by them. This usually tends to discourage team members from contributing towards work that have been presented before them as they feel they will just be wasting their time. Even when they know easier and shorter ways to get things done, they will rather remain silent.
Perfectionism is the enemy of productivity.
Perfectionism will not enable an entrepreneur to come out with a product until he/she feels the product is perfect, based on their perceived standards. While the perfectionist is in the lab working on their product to get the perfect product, competitors will release his product and allow feedback to make the product better to meet the needs of his/her target market.
Following the latter, it enables the market to decide and partake in the development of a generally accepted product while the perfectionist keeps working on making it perfect by his/her standards. The fact that perfectionists have difficulty in accepting correction also prevents them from seeking feedback from the public as they would see this as a criticism of their product or service.
Perfectionism is the killer of dreams.
When an individual has the dream to start a particular business, it looks easy at the beginning. It could be easier when you seek advice from people who have already been in that industry or mentors. Most individual use the advice they receive from such people to make their business a better one and are ready for further inputs to help them grow.
However, that is not the case for people who practise perfectionism. Due to the fact that they believe and are used to being “right” at all times, they see inputs given them by people in the industry as criticism which do not go too well with them. Most often when perfectionists are faced with challenges, they tend to get frustrated and are most likely to give up on their dreams. If things do not go exactly as they wish it to go, they are likely to drop the dream and console themselves that it was not meant to be.
Perfectionism is the enemy of effective time management.
When you are not focused on getting things done perfectly but having things done properly, you are able to make time for many things. However, when you are focusing on getting something done using perfectionism, you spend all your time on that and in the end, you have many things left undone.
Based on this we can boldly say that perfectionism is the enemy of effective time management. A perfectionist will not move away from what they are working on until they feel they have attained the standard they deem to be perfect. This prevents them from addressing other aspects of their lives and this goes a long way to making perfectionist become workaholics.
Perfectionism is the enemy of good networking.
Perfectionism is said to be the enemy of networking. Networking happens under less tense scenarios and usually outside the work environment. Perfectionists as I mentioned earlier turn to be workaholics. They turn to give up their social lives in an attempt to build the successful business that they envision. This makes whatever you are working on become very stressful and because the entrepreneur does not have time to destress, being a perfectionist has been associated with bringing about illnesses such as anxiety disorder, fatigue and insomnia. Research has also discovered that due to the lifestyle of perfectionists, most of the time they are seen to die earlier as compared to how long they would have lived should they have lived without all the pressures of being a perfectionist.
How does one handle perfectionism?
We should choose attainable targets and not ones that are solely abstract. I am a Ghanaian, so it would be totally unattainable to, say, at this stage and age, aim to be the President of America. That is not to say one shouldn’t dream big. But stories of only one person seeing the way and being the pioneer is the exception to the rule. Ask for help or for what you need. There is nothing different under the sun. As you give up trying to reinvent the wheel, embrace the team mentality as you progress step by step as a unit. It’s less stressful that way anyways.
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How do you think you can apply what you’ve just read in your current situation? Do you know anyone that’s a perfectionist? How do you think once can better manage the urge to try to be perfect at everything?
Hit me up on social media and let’s keep the conversation going! I read all the feedback you send me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Also, feel free to send me your articles on relevant topics for publication on the Macroeconomic Bulletin. I’d give you full credit, an intro, and an outro. Kindly make it about 1000 words.
Have a lovely week!
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Maxwell Ampong is the CEO of Maxwell Investments Group, a Trading and Business Solutions provider. He is also the Business Advisor for the General Agricultural Workers’ Union of TUC (Gh). He writes about trending and relevant economic topics, and general perspective pieces.