Perfectionism of the gifted.
Perfectionism is not necessarily the bad thing that many therapists would have us believe. It is actually an essential motivator for those who seek true excellence. It is a way of avoiding something most gifted people dread: the pain of being mediocre.
It seems probable that we humans only strive for what we know intuitively we can achieve. Accordingly, not many people aim for perfection. Some do, however, and they fall into two groups: the gifted and the hopelessly misguided. It is important to know which group one is in: coaching can quickly help you decide.
The evidence that perfectionism is useful can be summarized in one question: “What of human value has been achieved by people whose goal was just to be good enough?”
Can you imagine an Olympic athlete setting out on years of dedicated training with the goal of being less than perfect? or a world class actor who merely hoped to remember most of her lines? or a serious painter who would use a blue “because it‘s close enough to green” just to finish up a tube of paint? Of course not.
Striving for perfection is appropriate for gifted people. At each stage of their development they will strive anew, their goal always shifting as their own achievements redefine perfection.
Very often, their drive for self-perfection can manifest itself as self-condemnation. This is a serious matter only if it reaches a point where it immobilizes the individual in a net of ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ .
It is because perfectionists experience pain at their failure to attain their own high standards that we are often advised that perfectionism should be put aside in favor of the pursuit of excellence. This moderating notion may be comforting for many, but it is the pursuit of perfection that benefits both oneself – through the gratification of self-fulfillment – and society.
Coming to terms with one’s perfectionist drive is hard enough. However, there is nothing like being a perfectionist for contributing to another piece of gifted ‘neurosis’: alienation.
I hope this information has been helpful to you. If you would like to find out more about Dynamic Life Coaching or myself, please use the form below to schedule a free 50-minute ‘phone or Skype discussion.