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what is something good about being a perfectionist??

1571 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Steel Magnolia
... because I am having trouble coming up with reasons and examples for when being a perfectionist is a good thing. I always seem to get let down by my perfectionist tendencies- one can never really reach perfection, so why constantly strive for it?? sounds horrible... can anyone tell me a positive reason for being a perfectionist? I just want to know...
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If one can shift perfectionist to "Continuous improvement" and toss in a desire to get better at things, then there is this "Learner" strength that may be worth exploring. Here's a snippet from Gallup's site about it:

You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered -- this is the process that entices you. Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences -- yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes. It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one. This Learner theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential. The outcome of the learning is less significant than the "getting there."

Action Items for This Theme
Seek roles that require some form of technical competence. You will enjoy the process of acquiring and maintaining this competence.
As far as possible, shift your career toward a field with constantly changing technologies or regulations. You will be energized by the challenge of keeping up.
Because you are not threatened by unfamiliar information, you might excel in a consulting role (either internal or external), in which you are paid to go into new situations and pick up new competencies or languages very quickly.
Refine how you learn. For example, you might learn best by teaching; if so, seek out opportunities to present to others. You might learn best through quiet reflection; if so, carve out this quiet time.
Find ways to track the progress of your learning. If there are distinct levels or stages of learning within the discipline or skill, take a moment to celebrate your progression from one level to the next. If no such levels exist, create them for yourself (e.g., reading five books on the subject, or making three presentations on the subject).

Be ready to:
Honor your desire to learn. If you can't fulfill this need at work, take advantage of the adult educational opportunities in your community. Discipline yourself to sign up for at least one new academic or adult learning course each year.
Be a catalyst for change. Others might be intimidated by new rules, new skills, or new circumstances. Your willingness to soak up this "newness" can calm their fears and spur them to engage. Take this responsibility seriously.
Source: Learner

This is my top strength and I do see it used over and over again in my life. Seeing the upside of it can be a hard at times, but it is also worth trying to remember that the having high standards and striving towards them isn't a bad thing really. Desiring perfection is fine, expecting perfection is another story.

Another take on this from My Top 10 Lessons in Life - Sources of Insight :
Lesson 7. Version Your Perfection.
When you try to be your best and you model from excellence, it can be tough to set the right bar at a given point in time. There’s never enough time and you can never be too good. Surprisingly, I didn’t learn one of my most important lessons until I joined Microsoft. version your perfection. Focus on “good enough for now” and improve with each release. Getting incrementally better over time is better than never being good enough, or never being ready. I get from idea to done quickly, and then I improve. Feedback is your friend. It’s a learning loop. I’d rather get the learnings and results from 20 dry runs, than one *perfect* run, that falls short. Good enough for today, means I’ll be back in the batters box, swinging better tomorrow. It’s this very lesson that let me have 10 life lessons for now, while I can refine again later, and this is a key concept behind my You 2.0 guide.
1 - Enneagram Type One: The Reformer notes the following levels in a healthy Type 1:

Level 1(At Their Best): Become extraordinarily wise and discerning. By accepting what is, they become transcendentally realistic, knowing the best action to take in each moment. Humane, inspiring, and hopeful: the truth will be heard.

Level 2: Conscientious with strong personal convictions: they have an intense sense of right and wrong, personal religious and moral values. Wish to be rational, reasonable, self-disciplined, mature, moderate in all things.

Level 3: Extremely principled, always want to be fair, objective, and ethical: truth and justice primary values. Sense of responsibility, personal integrity, and of having a higher purpose often make them teachers and witnesses to the truth.
Do you see some good that could come from being wise? How about following those convictions to change the world? Even at average it isn't so bad in some ways:

Level 4: Dissatisfied with reality, they become high-minded idealists, feeling that it is up to them to improve everything: crusaders, advocates, critics. Into "causes" and explaining to others how things "ought" to be.

Level 5: Afraid of making a mistake: everything must be consistent with their ideals. Become orderly and well-organized, but impersonal, puritanical, emotionally constricted, rigidly keeping their feelings and impulses in check. Often workaholics—"anal-compulsive," punctual, pedantic, and fastidious.

Level 6: Highly critical both of self and others: picky, judgmental, perfectionistic. Very opinionated about everything: correcting people and badgering them to "do the right thing"—as they see it. Impatient, never satisfied with anything unless it is done according to their prescriptions. Moralizing, scolding, abrasive, and indignantly angry.
I may be a level 2 or 3 at the moment, but that's where I see myself in this. Lastly, Daniel Pink has some interesting notes when it comes to motivation, one of these being the idea of "Mastery" which is what a perfectionist may strive to do, master something. Here's a short video to watch about it if you want more details:

Autonomy and Purpose are the two big motivators for things which aren't necessarily related to a Perfectionist to my mind. I'm a 1w2, so I tend to be that advocate that shines through at times like this in a way. Hopefully that helps some in giving perspective on why a perfectionist isn't necessarily a bad thing if handled properly. Though if you want more stuff, just ask and I'll see what else I can dig up with a few clicks and harness my Google Fu. :happy:
Another link

In going through some of my Strengths Finder stuff, I came across a series of blog radio shows about these strengths and here's a link to the Learner one, the show itself is about 45 mintues long if you want to hear the whole thing:

Super Powers Center -- Learner 11/7/2009 - All Things M | Internet Radio | Blog Talk Radio

The key point is that Learners in using this strength at its best can help other people learn by knowing enough about the process and what may or may not work in a sense. These are kind of like the "Super Teachers" that can help anyone know how they learn and make it cool in a way. It can be quite the skill to have as things keep changing in the world. There is a department in my company called "Process Development" that are full of perfectionists in a sense as these people are always trying to find better ways to do all the things we do here, from taking orders, processing orders, running projects, etc. "What is good enough today is probably not good enough tomorrow," is one of many lines I've heard from our VP about this.

Another point to some of this is that when I go deep into a subject, I really go DEEP. :happy: I enjoy absorbing information and seeing how things work.
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