Perfectionism: Striving for excellence or an excuse to play small?

I remember being in a job interview when the interviewer asked me:

“What is your greatest weakness?”

I’d smile back, so pleased to answer the question I know how to answer so well:

“I’m a perfectionist….I set high standards for myself and others. I achieve a lot but then can often get frustrated if things aren’t going as planned.”

Well, the part I’d withhold is the depth of the frustration - how this inner perfectionist never ever is truly satisfied.  How even if I achieve one thing, the goal line keeps moving further and further. How sometimes this inner  perfectionist makes me take on more than I can chew or say that I don’t want to complete something or deliver because I’m/it’s “not ready yet.”  

While perfectionism can be great to help us to strive and achieve more, on the shadow side, perfectionism can be maddening.  It can cause us to hold impossible expectations for ourselves that are more about keeping us safe and protected vs. driving us to grow.  In this way, perfectionism in fact is an insidious coping mechanism that can stop us from realizing our goals and full potential.

If you relate to this at all, make this your new mantra: