In this Lightning Cast, you’ll discover how perfectionism leads to procrastination and holds you back.  You’ll also find out how to overcome perfectionism.


A Lightning Cast is a shorter form episode modeled after lightning talks.  You’ll get valuable content in 8 minutes or less.


Perfectionists strive to be flawless and set high performance standards.  The problem is that it’s often accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns about how you’ll be perceived by others.

While trying to do great work is important, there’s a difference between striving for excellence and demanding perfection.


The problem

Having high standards becomes a problem when we believe something should be a lot easier than it is in reality.  It’s also an issue when people have excessively high personal standards.

In some cases, perfectionism can lead to anxiety, unhealthy levels of stress, and depression.  Even is less severe cases, perfectionism can cause procrastination, missing deadlines, missing opportunities, and inaction.

Instead of ready, aim, fire, perfectionists often get stuck in ready, aim, aim, aim.  We need to shift to fire and adjust.  Take action and then adjust your approach.



Most perfectionism stems from fear; the fear of what others may think.  It’s related to your inner critic and imposter syndrome that Denise Jacobs discussed in episode 143.

This fear of failure keeps you stuck in your comfort zone.

A lot of it also comes down to perception.  You may think it’s easy for others to accomplish things that you can’t.  Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your blooper reel to someone else’s highlight reel.  You often don’t see the hard work and failures of others.

There’s almost always a gap between hopes and images conjured in your mind versus what you actually produce.  This causes frustration and sometimes makes you believe that you’re a failure.

When you focus on avoiding failure, you limit your creativity and miss out on great opportunities.  People often forget that there’s a necessary role of failure – to help us learn and grow.  Think of a baby learning to walk or learning to ride a bike.


What to do about perfectionism

Remember that progress beats perfection.  There will never be a perfect time.  Take action instead of waiting for things to be perfect.  The longer you delay, the more others lose the benefit of what you may create.

Focus on taking the next action to move closer to the result you want. Agile and lean startup approaches and mindset helps.  Think of work as experiments or prototypes.

Your rough draft is something to iterate on.  Get feedback and continue to improve it.

Use a time box to give yourself a limited amount of time to focus.  A time box forces you to create and move on.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Will it really matter or is good enough . . . good enough?
  • Will the time you’re spending be worth the investment? Don’t forget that there’s an opportunity cost to everything you do.
  • Am I working on the most valuable thing right now?


Listen to the full episode to discover techniques that will help you overcome perfectionism and deliver.



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