Is Perfectionism Required to Be Successful?

In a business world often still very male dominated, being a woman can be a challenge. How do women manage the challenges and strive to be successful? Often, it’s by trying to be perfect.

We’re taught by culture that perfectionism is supposed to be a big part of success, and many women take this learning to heart. The point of view is, “In order to survive and thrive in the business world, I have to go above and beyond and be extra perfect.” If any of the following sound familiar, you may have some perfectionist tendencies:


I have to go the extra mile to look my absolute best at work

I can’t make any mistakes

I need to be careful that all my actions are impeccable

I must present myself in the best light possible at all times

My performance at work must be flawless


In addition to these often-unvoiced perspectives, women in business naturally tend to have very high standards for their work, simply from their internal value on excellence. Add these factors together, however, and the focus becomes all about achieving these high (and unrealistic) standards, leading to a significant amount of stress.

What if perfectionism wasn’t what you needed to succeed? In fact, what if striving to be perfect was actually eliminating the one thing that would most support your success?

When you’re trying to be perfect, you are taking one very important thing out of equation. What’s that one thing?


If you try to adhere to the standards given to you, then you are trying to fit in with mainstream standards. But those standards only reflect what already exists. They don’t bring the new spark of creativity that sets any business or individual apart from the crowd.

It’s your personal touch to what you work on and your unique perspective that can catapult you to the forefront of your field. Your business requires you and the way you perceive the world much more than it needs those mainstream standards.

When you give up you by seeking to be perfect, you don’t just give up your unique perspective, however. You also give up your knowing.

What does that mean? Well, any time you are immersed in a business or a field, you know what is required to be sustainable in the future. If you’ve had children, you can tap into what this is like by remembering times you just knew what your child required. Where are you not acknowledging the things you simply know about what to do for your business or workplace?

For example, are you actually aware when it’s required to change directions, add a new employee or project, or scale something back to address new conditions? Knowing what’s required to create the future is much more valuable than toeing the conventional line.If you’d like to stop eliminating you from your work life, here’s a few tips to help you avoid perfectionism:


Stop judging! Perfectionism is one judgment after another (since you have to always judge whether you’re meeting those standards), and it doesn’t help to then judge you for being perfectionist.

Allow yourself to be imperfect and make mistakes. What are you most afraid will happen if you’re not perfect? Is that actually true?

Differentiate your standards of excellence from other standards you might be striving to reach. It’s okay to strive for excellence; use that to your advantage without allowing perfectionism to run you.

Acknowledge the gift and contribution that you are to your business or workplace. What you acknowledge can expand!


Business is often thought of as an entity, but it consists of people. Each person is valuable for their unique perspective, which can bring more to the creation of the business than their perfectionism. A business most thrives when every person is invited to bring their distinct viewpoint to the table.


What will most help you thrive: aiming for a perfect standard, or allowing yourself to be you?



About the Author:  Susanna Mittermaier is a psychologist, psychotherapist and author of the #1 international bestselling book, “Pragmatic Psychology: Practical Tools for Being Crazy Happy.” She is a certified facilitator for Right Voice for You, a special program by Access Consciousness®. A highly sort after public speaker, Susanna has been featured in magazines such as TV soap, Women’s Weekly, Empowerment Channel Voice America, Om Times, Motherpedia, Newstalk New Zealand and Holistic Bliss. Susanna offers a new paradigm of therapy called Pragmatic Psychology and is known for her ability to transform people’s problems and difficulties into possibilities and powerful choices. Follow on Twitter @AccessSusanna.

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