9 Ways Perfectionists Can Stop Being Self-Destructive

In a recent team meeting our leader, an avid sailor, showed us a clip from the movie Wind. In the movie, Will Parker, played by Matthew Modine (yes, yum), loses the Americas Cup to the Australians and decides to form his own syndicate to win it back.

I noticed how no one on the boat took over anyone else’s job. Granted, no one was slacking so there was no slack for a perfectionist-type to pick up. But what if someone had been goofing off when they should have been preparing to rein in the jib? Would the perfectionist in the group have tried to do her job and theirs? Perfectionists in the workplace often have the tendency to over do it, which causes self-destruction and burnout.

Growing up, perfectionists might be those who study and prepare for exams to ensure they will get good grades. In sports we play our best, our most competitive to help our team win.

So when is the desire to be the best become the worst?

When you feel worn out instead of rewarded.

Attention to detail, preparation and organization are all great things! However, when you beat yourself up for any mistake, it is not a great thing, it is self-destructive and unhelpful.

workplace stress
Image Source

Perfectionists must find that discerning eye to recognize situations where they need to give themselves a break. Mindfulness is one key way to slow down and be gentle on you. Often perfectionism goes hand in hand with people pleasing. Remember that you may a feel short term high for taking care of someone else’s needs but when you consistently avoid self-care, you crash and burn.

Here are 9 ways for perfectionists to be the perfect (ha!) asset to their team:

  1. Realize that everyone has a role. No one is more important than the other. If we don’t have lights on in the building, we cannot see enough to work-  our maintenance team member is just as important as our leader.
  2. Trust your team. This also means no hoarding work – instead teach junior team members their own responsibilities. Delegate work accordingly.
  3. Focus on your job. What can you do to improve? Are their webinars you can attend? White papers you can research? Have you done your best today?
  4. Cheer each other on. Smile and look your colleagues in the eye. Ask them about what’s important to them. I have a list of my colleagues fave NFL teams in my cubicle (lots of non-natives in Florida).
  5. Make it fun. It was complete chaos in the movie on that sailboat, but everyone was still having fun.
  6. Listen to each other. Self-explanatory.
  7. No arguing with the Captain. When it’s 11pm and your agency President decides to revise the entire pitch deck, you just do it. And you smile at them from the audience the next day during the pitch. Spoiler alert, we won the new business. No arguing with the Captain.
  8. Be prepared and realize that it takes years of practice. See all of the gadgets and gear in the picture at the top of this post? Those are the props that our leader brought into the meeting to illustrate his point. Just like sailors, we all have things we do to prepare ourselves. As I type this post, it’s 5:31pm and my breakfast is prepared and in the fridge for tomorrow. (Hey, perfectionists still are compulsive taskmasters at heart –just the healthy ones may choose their undertakings with mindfulness).
  9. Stay hungry and determined. Yeah, you still get to go for it.

Things Happy People Do

Columnist Archive

Kelly Christiansen

A top columnist at MsCareerGirl, marketing guru Kelly Christiansen has 10+ years of strategic leadership experience and is a Senior Marketing Strategist on the Health Care team at Kahler Slater, an architecture firm in Wisconsin. An avid reader, runner, and recipe experimenter, you can follow Kelly on twitter @kellymc247

You may also like...