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Businessweek Archives

Perfectionism and Procrastination


Many small business owners have a strong desire for excellence, which they typically meet or exceed. If taken too far, however, setting high standards can turn into a form of perfectionism.

Surprisingly, many who describe themselves as perfectionists find themselves procrastinating, sometimes on important projects or to-do list items. That’s because when we set a standard of perfection for ourselves or others, the result can often be demotivating. Normally we are motivated by the prospect of meeting or exceeding our goals, and since meeting a standard of perfection is unlikely at best, it causes many people to stop trying altogether.

Without understanding the relationship between perfection and procrastination, this inaction can be mistaken for plain old laziness or inattention. If you or someone you are leading seems to be putting off something important, look beneath the surface for perfectionism, double-check your own standards, and make adjustments as necessary. Remember, while perfection may apply in the divine realm, excellence is an appropriately high standard for the rest of us humans.

David Peck

Founder

Leadership Unleashed

San Francisco


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