Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Pursuing Excellence, Not Perfection

You can meet high standards and still leave room for mistakes.

Over the years, I’ve compiled handouts to give to my clients in therapy. My files have been purged numerous times with each office move. The handouts that remain are the best of the best. Here's one I found about perfectionists that dates back to graduate school (some 20+ years ago!).

Perfectionists strive for impossible goals. Pursuers of excellence enjoy meeting high standards that are within reach.

Perfectionists value themselves by what they do. Pursuers of excellence value themselves by who they are.

Perfectionists, when they run into difficulty, get easily overwhelmed and give up. On the other hand, pursuers of excellence experience temporary disappointment, but they keep going.

Perfectionists can be devastated by failure; pursuers of excellence learn from it.

Perfectionists remember mistakes and dwell on them. Pursuers of excellence correct mistakes and learn from them.

Perfectionists want to be number one. Pursuers of excellence can live with not being the best, especially when they know they’ve tried their hardest.

Perfectionists hate criticism; pursuers of excellence see criticism as a way to learn.

Perfectionists have to win to keep high self-esteem. Pursuers of excellence can finish second and still feel good about themselves.

Shyness is nice and shyness can stop you
from doing all the things in life
you’d like to.

–Ask, by The Smiths (Read how we named our blog.)

Let’s Keep in Touch!

To subscribe to my posts via e-mail, click here.

Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

To read more of my posts on this blog, click here.

I am the co-author of Dying of Embarrassment, Painfully Shy, and Nurturing the Shy Child. Dying of Embarrassment: Help for Social Anxiety & Phobia was found to be one of the most useful and scientifically grounded self-help books in a research study published in Professional Psychology, Research and Practice. I’ve also been featured in the award-winning PBS documentary, Afraid of People.