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How Much Are We Striving For Perfection Over Progress?

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do things perfectly and get things right first time. But do we really learn anything by achieving perfection on our first attempt? Or is learning by making progress – having a go, reflecting on the outcomes, adapting the approach and trying again more effective?

It’s not surprising that researchers from the American Psychological Association believe there may be a link in the desire for perfection with the use of social media – driven by an exacerbated sense of comparison. But a longing for perfection is having detrimental effects on individuals and teams. Increasingly, research has shown that striving for perfection can have a negative impact on the workplace environment getting in the way of productivity and, in some instances, creating tension between team members.

So, what can you do to shift your mindset and focus on progress over perfection?


– Try things and give yourself permission to ‘get it wrong’ – sounds simple but all too often we step back in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Embrace these failures as opportunities to learn – not something that is frowned upon.

– Make time to reflect on the experience and learn from your actions. It’s too easy to move on with the next item on the agenda but without pausing and reflecting we’re not learning - we’re not making progress.

– Be open and honest and ask the difficult questions – ‘what didn’t go well?’ ‘why didn’t it go well?’

– Share as you go. Keeping something to yourself until you believe it is perfect for the big final reveal can be heart-breaking if you don’t get the response you’d hoped for. Sharing early gives you the opportunity to ask for feedback, reflect on the outcomes and adapt your approach.

– Celebrate the wins – however small they may feel. This is progress!


For many people this is a big change in mindset…striving for progress over perfection but when you do, I promise you it’ll be worth it.

After all, what and who is perfect and who decided what ‘perfect’ is?


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