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Why perfectionism is destroying your success (and health)

'Perfect' is a mirage. And striving for it has the very real potential to stop your startup in its tracks.

by Jo Foster
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It’s pretty natural for aspiring entrepreneurs to want, (heck, expect!) everything to be perfect when running a successful start-up.

After all, striving for that perfect 10 every time should be the ultimate goal… right?

Wrong. Fact is, perfect is not actually a thing. And striving for it has the very real potential to stop your startup in its tracks.

The true price of perfect.

As a culture, we tend to reward perfectionists for their uncompromising drive to meet their own ridiculously high standards. And while perfectionists generally are high achievers, this rule simply doesn’t apply in the world of startups.

Studies have found perfectionists are generally risk-averse, which can seriously impede innovation and creativity (kind of the building blocks of entrepreneurial success).

Striving for that perfect product or that perfect moment to release it will more likely result in missed opportunity, as any entrepreneur who “waited for the right time”, only to be pipped at the post by a competitor, will tell you.

In fact, our research suggests a founder’s interest in perfecting details, structure and procedures that exceed a measly 8% is directly related to business failure.

Nobody’s perfect (and nobody should be).

Striving to achieve unattainable perfection can not only hobble your business unnecessarily, it can actually harm your health, too!

Typical perfectionists take a “no pain, no gain” approach to their success. But this tendency towards an unequivocal workaholism can lead to a life of fear, frustration, paralyzing self-doubt and low self-esteem.

And while you may think perfectionism would keep you on track with that latest diet and exercise plan, the research actually shows perfectionism is linked to poor physical health and an increased risk of death. Yikes.

Researchers reckon it could be high levels of stress and anxiety, known to be linked with the personality trait of perfectionism, which might be contributing to the almost 50% decrease in lifespan.

On top of all this, in their constant struggle for control, perfectionists are at increased risk of anxiety, depression and eating disorders.

All this can set you on a vicious cycle of mental and physical burn-out, that in turn makes you less likely to achieve the high standards you set for yourself in the first place. And let’s face it, nobody has time for these destructive patterns in general life, let alone when trying to create and run a successful business!

Moving past perfect.

In the words of Elsa from Frozen, let it go!

Learning to let go of the idea that everything has to be 100% perfect all the time means you’re better able to grasp new opportunities as they crop up, initiate new ideas, gather constructive feedback (hello, MVP!) and ultimately move forward.

In fact, our research found that successful early-stage entrepreneurs are 40% more likely to initiate and start things than the working population, an energy often translates not only to start up success, but also investment success.

It will also keep your physical and mental health in check, so you can continue to be the best founder you can be.

Think you may need a little help letting go? We might have just the thing

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