Skip to content

A Solution To Address Perfectionism

Melvyn Tan
Melvyn Tan
2 min read

Anyone who claims that they are a perfectionist are truly saying that they are afraid of failure.

Let’s face it. It is just another way of saying, I’ll do it when I know it is going to be perfect. And, well, the truth is, nothing will ever be perfect.

Not especially at the first attempt.

Why you must stop being a perfectionist

In her book, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, Twyla Tharp explained how she deal with her the fears.

She puts it this way:

When I feel that sense of dread, I try to make it as specific as possible.

She then went on to list down her five biggest fears and exorcise each one by giving a counter-argument.

Fear of failure

Fear is the number one reason why people don’t do anything at all. And fear of failure is what stopped 66% of American adults who don’t start their own businesses despite having dreamed of starting one.

Without taking on fear, we would never get started. Without getting started, it not only robs us of the opportunity to realize our dreams, but it also prevents us from learning from our failures and adapt along the way.

How to deal with failure

Once you have overcame the fear of failure and got started, the next phase is to deal with failure when it happens. Robert Herjavec suggests that we need to absorb failure or we might never meet success.

When we learn from our failures, we are extracting insights from those failures to help us get better.

Similar to Dan Rockwell’s article 3 Ways to Fail Successfully, here are the 3Is of Positive Failures:

  1. Inspiration: Share openly with others about the failures of the projects. But also share how I managed to overcome it, including the struggles and pains.
  2. Insights: Extract insights from those failures so that I know what can work and what can’t work, at least not at that time.
  3. Iterate: Iterate on the strategies and techniques. Do it better, but most importantly do it differently.

Sharing your journey

Some of us have never failed. At this point in my life, I’m not quite sure if that’s a blessing or a curse. But the point is, we all need to start somewhere. Hence, the best thing to do is to share your journey.

Recognizing that not all of us are at the same juncture of our journey, here’s what Austin Kleon suggests you to do this:

Once a day, after you’ve done your day’s work, find one little piece of your process that you can share. Where you are in your process will determine what that piece is. If you’re in the very early stages, share your influences and what’s inspiring you. If you’re in the middle of executing a project, write about your methods or share works in progress. If you’ve just completed a project, show the final product, share scraps from the cutting-room floor, or write about what you learned.

If you want to increase your chance of success at any task, use the fear-failure-share approach.

Or, are you afraid of getting started?

Melvyn Tan

Despite living the good life at midlife, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. My aim here is to reinvent midlife, learn new skills, and understand how the world works post-COVID.