The Inaction of Perfectionism

Perfectionist is often praised as a great trait to have. TV show protagonist and antagonist alike have this in common to show extreme intelligence and effectiveness. More a super power than actual problem. People will even state that this is their biggest weakness in work interviews like it is something that is universally an advantage. They wear it as a badge of honor. I wholeheartedly disagree

Perfectionism in business seems admirable. People who strive to do their work at such a high level of quality at every single aspect. In a world of people putting in minimal effort at work, the person who demanded the highest level of quality is king or queen.  Or so it is in theory at least.

While there are many good traits of a perfectionist, there are many bad ones as well. You could easily just see someone who is indecisive, insecure, or possessing a big ego.  Their work production can be lower as each input needs to be perfect. Meticulous work is slow going and in a digital age speed is an asset. This will shock many but humans are flawed, they are not computers. Humans are not only capable but some would say prone to mistakes. To act without a forgivable margin of error is not a realistic way to view the world.


Being able to make a decision is more important. People will make mistakes but the ability to make a choice and back it up with enough rational thought is a key to long term success. Too often people are frozen by paralysis by analysis. There are too many options; more research always needs to be done. At a certain point someone needs to just pull the trigger and make a choice. It quite literally pays to be this person. Don’t be impulsive or reckless. A poor decision is worse than no decision. With that in mind remember a wrong decision that you can justify why you made it trumps inaction.

The perfectionist is always planning but slow to take action. They will always be a step or two behind. This fact tends to compound over time as well as once you get behind its hard to catch up. The perfectionism can almost come across as procrastination, they might be doing something but if nothing get done it’s essentially the same thing. The tires as spinning but the car isn’t moving.

If you want to succeed in your career don’t be a perfectionist, be a decision maker. That’s someone that can look at options and make a rational thought out choice and go with it. Cool and confident when there is a tough decision to be made is a real asset to have. As far as trainable skills it might be one of the harder but working on self-confidence can be a great way to indirectly increase this skill.

There is no perfect time. You will never be 100% done that book or painting, there are always improvements you can add. But if no one ever sees it doesn’t matter how much work you put in. Yesterday was the best day to do it, but today is also fine. Take action in your life, it will be messy at times for sure. I would take a messy life where I am making decisions on versus one where I am frozen with inaction any day.

It is very likely that the best people in sports are not the best people on the Earth capable of these sports. They are the best athletes you try and keep trying. There is someone out in the world that has the ability to be a better athlete than some professional players but they just didn’t try or gave up after high school. Victory only goes to the ones competing. So pursue your dreams. The act of just trying to pursue them will put you ahead of all the people at home that may be smarter than you but they are stuck at square one planning. Make a decision, make a mistake, learn and then grow from it.

Life is not a spectator’s sport, get out there and make something happen.


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