Perfectionism Is Actually A Fear Of Failure

I’ve struggled with perfectionism for a long time.

It wasn’t until today that I really thought about why and where it came from in my life.

When I really think about why I feel the need to “prefect” something, I came to realize that what I am actually trying to do is create no room for errors or failures.

I remember in 3rd grade I would write a report in cursive and be 80% done with the report and end up throwing it away ( instead of erasing my mistakes ) and start all over. These would be reports/essays that would be 3 pages long which is a huge feat for a 3rd grader.

I felt that erasing my errors wasn’t a perfect paper, so each time I made a mistake I would just start completely over. I recall doing this at least 10 times with 1 such paper. Multiple that with 5 school days a week and I was doing this every day and you see a lot of wasted time just to get a good grade on a paper that ultimately did what in my life? lol

My reasoning? I wanted that perfect A+ on my paper. Anything else would have meant I made an error or failed.

Flash forward 3 decades and I still find myself wanting to lay the perfect row of tiles in my shower floor, or wanting to build the perfect Adwords campaigns for my clients so they don’t experience loss of ROI. Anything less than perfect would show my flaws, errors, or deem the campaign ( and shower tiles ) a failed project.

This nasty habit also got me into reading forums, books, taking seminars, downloading webinars and courses, and other odd shit in that quest to find the perfect source of information that would help me launch and keep these “perfect” error-free campaigns and companies. I thought that if I just looked at what other people did and copy them, I could avoid causing errors and failures.. all in that quest of perfectionism.

Wasting my time trying to perfect my knowledge of all things by reading books, forum posts, and webinars lead to less time actually building my company and campaigns. I also tended to fall into the same failure traps of the people I tried to emulate ( oh, they tell you all their success stories, but never their failures BTW ). Trying to write the perfect code base for some scripts and automation also took up a bunch of time that could have been spent on other things.

The same problem comes up for “waiting for the perfect moment or timing”. People tell themselves, “I’ll wait until Monday when the weather is better” or “I’ll wait until the economy picks up”. People keep waiting for that perfect moment or time to do something and all they do is delay the fact they might fail.

The tricky part?

You will always fail at something. Something done at 80% your expectations is better than something you’re still waiting to do and delaying on for days/weeks/months/years and eventually passes you by.

Hi! I'm Jason Brown and I’m a 36 year old digital marketing intrapreneur living in beautiful Louisville, Kentucky. I've been involved with the Internet since 1996 and have personally made millions online with my creative marketing tactics and persistence. I blog about marketing, money, and motivation. Thanks for stopping by!

1 comment

  1. Ben Solomon   •  

    Hey Jason,

    That was a timely reminder.

    I’ve had struggles with being in ‘learning’ mode, rather than executing what I know, thinking I needed to learn more to get it right.

    Found from some who were willing to disclose their failures that they failed regardless of knowing ‘best practices’, and actually learned more from that rather than from all the ‘learning’ from blogs, books, webinars etc.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Loving your posts here.

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