The Curse of Perfectionism

Penelope Trunk has a superb piece on why perfectionists are usually the least productive people — and how to break the power of perfectionism in your life. Her description of a study involving a ceramics class is a, well, perfect illustration of how our obsession to get all the details just right usually ends up hurting us.

It seems that while the quantity group was busily churning out piles of work — and learning from their mistakes — the quality group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of clay.

Think about this in your own life, even if you’re not using clay. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. But you can’t practice if you think only of perfection. Practice is about making mistakes; perfection comes from imperfection.

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