the hazard of perfection

“Perfectionism is not the path that leads us to our gifts and to our sense of purpose; it’s the hazardous detour. … Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving for excellence. … Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval. … …research shows that perfectionism hampers achievement.”
— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

I love for everything to be neat. For all the numbers to reconcile perfectly, for every paragraph to be formatted consistently, for each item to be in its exact place in the filing system. I can get lost in those types of details for hours. It actually gives me some pleasure and makes me feel like I am being productive.

But that feeling of being productive has a very small p. The return of productivity on investment of time is most definitely on the smaller side.

I’m not willing to give up my attention to detail. After all, it’s one of the things my clients greatly value about my work. But there are instances where I can set boundaries. Where I can ask myself whether it’s a better use of my time to refine tiny details on the first page of a document or to move forward drafting the content of the rest of it.

There are times to pay attention to the trees despite the forest. And there are times to stand back and look at the whole landscape. In both instances, a question I always need to ask myself is “Is my working towards perfection in certain details taking away from my striving for excellence overall?”