Perfectionism will kill your dreams – Produce Quantity to Create Quality
I get easily excited with new insights and “a-ha’s”.
It’s been a LONG time since I’ve been so excited about a study that confirms, reconfirms, double-blind confirms what I’ve experienced with my self experiments battling perfectionism.
Here the Brené Brown definition of perfectionism:
The belief that if we do things perfectly, and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, self judgment, and shame.
Here’s my Perfectionism doodle that reminds me of what it’s like when I slip back into old perfectionistic habits of procrastination, learning instead of doing and worry.
Perfectionism is a heavy suit of armor and a shield driven by the fear of the POSSIBILITY of being criticized and / or judged.
This way of being results in doing little to no work.
Worse, it results in the death of dreams and potential.
From one of my Courage Cards – Perfectionism is a shield that prevents you from being seen.
Recovering Perfectionists find freedom.
I’ve worked on becoming a recovering perfectionist for years. This has resulted in a lot of work created and potential fulfilled.
It’s been SO fun in many ways and I have so much more to do!
It’s also helped me become VERY comfortable and familiar with being criticized, judged and misunderstood.
Most times, I no longer take it personally or feel the need to explain myself.
SO much freedom here.
I want you to feel that freedom too.
So today I’m sharing a SUPER COOL experiment I came across recently.
I’ve shared a little about it on my last couple of livestreams.
It confirms absolutely everything I’ve experienced with recovering perfectionism.
You can read more about it in the book Atomic Habits. It’s in my “Books I Recommend” list here.
Photography professor at the University of Florida Jerry Uelsmann divided his students into 2 groups.
Group 1: Quantity Group
These students would be graded only on the quantity of work they produced.
100 images = A grade
90 images = B grade
80 images = C grade
70 images = D grade
Group 2: Quality Group
These students would be graded on the excellence of ONE single photo.
To be graded an A, the students in this group had to create an almost perfect image.
After this experiment concluded and grades were given out, they went back to evaluate the excellence of the photos.
Surprisingly, Professor Uelsmann found that the best photos were all produced by the Quantity Group.
Turns out that the Quantity students were getting busy DOING.
They took tons of photos.
They experienced the differences in composition, lighting, time of day, different subject matter.
They learned from the experience of doing again and again, instead of thinking about doing.
The Quantity Group actively learned from their mistakes.
The Quality students learned as much as possible, theorized about how to create one perfect photo and hypothesized about what might work best.
They spent more time thinking, worrying, strategizing about doing it the best way, rather than actually doing.
The Quality group ended up with all kinds of unproven ideas, not a whole lot of meaningful, diverse experience…
and ordinary, non-excellent photos.
This is my takeaway:
You’ll create better QUALITY results when you focus on QUANTITY instead of quality.
Perfectionism is increasing.
Over the last few decades there has been SO much research about the problems with perfectionism.
Even so, apparently, the rates of perfectionism in children have increased significantly.
I see that in the children in my life.
Let’s be examples of recovering perfectionism and emotional resilience, if not for ourselves, for them.
When your show your kids (or any loved one who’s watching you) how to show up and not only be OK with your imperfect creations, but learn to embrace and enjoy them, you give them permission to do the same.
Do Your BEST Within the Time Allowed.
I’ve been very productive in the last few years.
Recovering Perfectionism allows for that.
Recently, I decided I can and want to do more.
One way I’m doing that is NOT by working myself to death.
Believe me, I schedule a LOT of rest and white space in my life.
I’ve decided to do my best within the time scheduled for whatever task I’m doing.
If it’s B grade work, I’m going to be ok with it.
If it’s C grade work, I’m going to be ok with it.
Even if I think *gasp*, it might be D work… I’m going to be ok with it!
Most likely, it will be much better than I think.
I’ll be creating in QUANTITY.
Based on the research, with more actual DOing, the overall QUALITY of my work will increase.
How cool is that?!?
No matter where your perfectionistic tendencies are – writing, painting, business building, coaching, teaching, singing, speaking, playing an instrument – remember this study and do more of your imperfect work more often.
Create with Humanity.
Let’s go after our dreams – and CREATE.
Create as humans.
Not always good. (For those times, simply say “Ok that sucked… let’s move on.)
Sometimes blissfully great.
Excuses are a subtle (& very intelligent) form of Perfectionism.
Stop waiting for everything to be “perfect” because it never will be.
Stop waiting to know the whole path in advance (where’s the courageous adventure in that?!?)
Stop waiting until it’s SO good that no one will be able to criticize or find fault. (that’ll never happen.)
Stop waiting until you’ve learned everything you “need” to know first.
Life goes by quickly.
Author & creator of Heartwork Journaling. The art & science of creating your results.