Perfect or Excellent? What’s the difference? By Jane Schulte

Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing – Harriet Braiker

When I was young, I was branded with the word perfectionist. I thought it was a compliment. Little did I know that it was not. In fact, being a perfectionist is stressful and maddening and can lead to anger and self-destructive type behaviors.

No one can be perfect. And no one should want to be. The silly things we do, the mistakes we make and the fact that we don’t know it all is what life is about. Learning, growing and having fun in the process.

Perfectionism at its core is really the fear of failure and fear of rejection. Making a mistake does not equal failure. People don’t reject you because of a mistake. The root of all failure is simply being overtaken by fear.

I have learned to turn my mistakes into funny stories that are actually entertaining. When people are laughing and being entertained, they certainly aren’t thinking “she’s a loser.”

Striving for excellence in all that you do is healthy and keeps you passionate and motivated. It adds to your satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment. In other words, you don’t do it for the approval of others. But in striving to be perfect, it is all about what others think.

When you sit down to work on something, decide why you are doing it, who you are doing it for and how you will feel when you have produced the end product. After you analyze your answers, you will know what mindset you are in.

If your primary desire is excellence, you will not be motivated by whether someone appreciates what you are doing. It is not for somebody else to notice but for your own sense of achievement and growth. This is liberating!

When writing this article, it started out slow and dull. I kept writing and editing. I knew that I wasn’t going to publish an article that was terrible, but I also knew it wouldn’t be perfect and it may not even be excellent. But it served a purpose for me, and hence, I proceeded with publishing it.

You will never really get anything off the ground if you think it has to be perfect. Sometimes you will fall short and sometimes you will really hit the mark. But it is in the striving for excellence that brings success and happiness.

Perfect or excellent? Your choice. Having been on both sides, I can say that you will be a whole lot happier when you stop caring so much about what others think and start placing value on your own self-worth.
Jane Schulte is the founder of PRISM Business Advisors located in Greater Cincinnati. She is also the Author of WORK SMART, Not Hard! and BOLD Leadership. Please visit or more information.

-I like the point that was made in the above article about not waiting for everything to be just right, or perfect. I’m a big proponent on the importance of getting it out there and not waiting for things to be just right. Just right is is far and few between, and more often than not I’ve seen the people who have to have things exactly right before moving forward, ending up staying stuck in inaction — and as a result never seeing the results they would were they not so married to the idea that everything has to be perfect before ever getting started. What do you think of the above article? Is there anything you would like to add to the conversation? Use the comments below to do so.