Are you an achiever or a perfectionist?

Are you an achiever or a perfectionist?

I remember being told that a perfectionist “has absolutely no standards” and at the time challenged that person’s beliefs, until I started coaching what I considered to be high achievers. People who were in senior roles, people who were activists and well…what I would call high achievers.

Until I started to see a patterns with many of them.

Many of these ‘successful’ people were actually very stressed, unhappy and self critical and were passing their perfectionistic expectations onto those around them causing a level of angst.

So what is the difference? Because being a perfectionist is one thing and a high achiever something completely different. So let’s break both down and see if you can see where you sit.

Perfectionists are everywhere and look like high achievers, with some additional emotional baggage. And this baggage shows up in the following 5 ways:

1. Preconceived evaluation from others, meaning

  • Their levels of perceived respect from others will diminish if they make a mistake
  • They believe not getting something right is seen as a personal weakness
  • They think others expect them to be perfect

2. Evaluation of others

  • They judge others based on their high, and sometimes unrealistic, standards which doesn’t give others the chance to shine
  • They are intolerant of people not ‘as good‘ as them

3.Self evaluation

  • They tend to beat themselves up and get disillusioned when they don’t meet their own high expectations
  • They tend to be stressed and experience disappointment
  • Their self talk includes thinking such as ‘not wanting to be a loser‘ or not wanting to fail

4.Parental evaluation

  • They subconsciously connect with what Mum and Dad might think
  • Self talk that might include not failing due to schooling or other privileges received
  • Conditioning that has embedded itself such as ‘don’t do this or that’, ‘get it right the first time or not at all’, ‘it’s all or nothing’

5.Environmental evaluation

  • This will show up as people that are compulsive about being organised, totally process driven and obsessive about order

Perfectionists standards are usually so high that they actually never really achieve them and as a result they, therefore, have no standards at all – after all, how can they?

Perfectionists are driven by fear. Fear of not being enough, fear of what others think and fear of not being loved.

No wonder they procrastinate, get defensive and have low levels of self esteem behind those strong, judgemental masks.

On the other hand, let’s look at achievers…and once again I have also worked with these behavioural patterns.

Are you someone who:

  • Is happy to view an action or a result that doesn’t work out, as a strategy that failed, as opposed to you being a failure?
  • Takes the time to enjoy the actual task or journey or growth and then celebrate the result?
  • Sees more than the mistakes and supports others along the way?
  • Makes the necessary iterations to progress even if it means putting yourself out there and showing vulnerability?
  • Shows strong levels of resilience and bounce back allowing you to step up to the plate again and again?
  • Takes feedback really well, can strategically let go your control to others and finds people are attracted to your healthy levels of self esteem?
  • Remember that wherever you are on either of these categories, the ability to go for no, fail fast and be ‘good enough’ is powerful.

And on that note, I will read once and press send regardless.

Be Bold and Brilliant!

PS. With the New Financial Year nearly upon us, amp up who you need to be for 2014/2015 and join my executive coaching or sales mentoring program. Don’t wait till you’re perfect to make your move. Call our office now on 1300 935 226 .
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Bernadette McClelland is an expert in B2B sales conversations that drive value and deliver multi-million dollar results. Contact her office now on 1300 935 226 or

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