Does being a perfectionist help you?

In November I was fortunate to go to a presentation by Nicola Arnold and Sanela Lukanovic on ‘debunking the myths on Perfectionism and Self Compassion’.  This was what I took away from the seminar bearing in mind I am NOT a perfectionist but in the last 14 years I have coached many people who are.

One of my values is striving to do the best I can, but when I make a mistake (and I make many) I try and learn from that mistake and move on.

It seems perfectionists try and live perfect, look perfect and act perfect. We are not talking about 100% here, we are talking about being off the scale (85% is a real success for me!)

Examples can include:

  • not sending, or delaying sending, emails as they don’t want to upset anybody
  • not wanting developmental feedback after completing a presentation
  • not tapping into creativity/not taking a risk

“when Perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun and fear is the annoying back seat driver”

– Brene Brown who is an expert in this field

Perfectionism stops us being brave and its best friend is self-criticism.

For my coaching I use Prism Profiling ( ) and most perfectionists are in the gold area being analytical, meticulous, independent, rule conscious and competent. They speculate endlessly about “the what” and “the why” before making decisions. When bogged down in their thinking, they may suffer from “analysis paralysis”. They are driven by the need for perfection from both themselves and others. ‘Golds’ are the most self-critical of all the behavioural styles. Golds use their intellect (something else I can’t rely on!) as a means of gaining superiority over others.

When I am coaching people with perfectionist traits, much of the focus is trying to get the person to understand that they are good at evaluating information, so they can follow their intuition, as they have thought it through so well naturally. The other key area is for the coachee to “stop beating themselves up” and look at their successes rather than delving into the minutia of something which might not be a total success.

So, if by chance you are a perfectionist, or you work for a boss who is a perfectionist, this might help your understanding. Sanela believes self-compassion is the answer.

“It takes courage to turn towards what scares us, what we do not like about ourselves and be with it, instead of running away, ignoring it and getting angry”

– Kristin Neff, another expert

If any of the above aspects impact you in any way, you have a number of experts you can Google. Or, if you want to talk to a coach who is definitely NOT a perfectionist, I might be able to give you another perspective. Contact

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