Perfectionism Kills Confidence and Productivity

An excerpt from our book, A Woman’s Way: Empowering Female Financial Advisors to Authentically Lead and Flourish in a Man’s World

Perfectionism is a blessing and a curse. We feel so good about ourselves because we can do it all (we think better than anyone else). However, we become our own worst enemy by insisting on doing everything, and we end up getting in our own way. Does this resonate with you?

Perfectionism and delegation are like oil and water. They simply don’t mix, so until you work on getting your perfectionistic tendencies under control, your delegator will remain dormant.

The core problem is that we’ve smothered our delegator by convincing ourselves that there is nobody else to do a job like we can. Sometimes what we really mean is that we don’t trust anyone else to do it ‘right,’ as if we hold the magical power of doing every job right. But is this really true?

Perfectionism Kills Confidence

The first excuse that comes out of a perfectionist’s mouth is this: “If I want it done right, I’ll have to do it myself. By the time I explain it to the other person, I may as well do it myself.” Sound familiar? Thought so. We’d like you to meet perfectionism, a strong internal barrier that blocks your productivity.

Our culture influences women to feel the need to be perfect. Most women we talk to who call themselves perfectionists really don’t want to be this way, but they feel that they have to be. Here’s a little secret: perfection is not attainable. 

Did you know that in the Amish culture, they believe that only God is perfect? To demonstrate this belief, in every handmade quilt they purposely make a mistake somewhere to remind them that nothing on earth is perfect. Striving for perfection can bring about depression, anxiety, stress, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of appetite, and it has even been known to lead to nervous breakdowns. Perfectionism will ultimately get in your way. It will slow down your road to success in a big way.

According to The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, perfectionism is also a confidence killer. As a financial advisor, sometimes the quest for perfection inhibits your ability to make decisions, especially those that must be made quickly.  Perfectionism kills confidence. It stops you from taking risks and slows down your progress as you continually try to get things ‘just right’ to avoid judgment or failure.

The Confidence Code also reveals that success correlates more closely with confidence than with competence, meaning that in order to succeed it’s more important to be confident than it is to be competent. (Maybe you need to read that last sentence again!) And because perfectionism tends to kill confidence, women advisors who lack confidence may struggle to get ahead. No doubt you are as alarmed by this revelation as we were when we first read it.

Crushing this internal barrier takes effort, confidence, trust and time. Focus on taming your perfectionist. Be mindful of when it rears its ugly head. Be open to knowing that sometimes good really is good enough. Engage your delegator. Give other people a chance to surprise you with their talents or skills. Embrace the belief that nothing on earth is perfect … not even you.

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