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Perfectionism Kills Organizations - by Chris Duffy Connecticut

Life and death artwork
Atlas Obscura

If your business is not innovating, competing, or achieving all it can, I invite you to examine how your teams perceive the importance of perfectionism. Perfection is the opposite of growth.

As a recovering perfectionist, I’ve learned when I’m approaching burnout, I’m trying to do everything perfectly. Society reinforces this notion by rewarding us when we achieve and excommunicating us when we don’t.

While batting a thousand feels euphoric, we can step back and ask:

  • What did we de-prioritize in order to get that result? Our loved ones? Our health? Our joy?

  • How am I learning? Is my performance mindset sometimes getting in my way?

  • How are others relating to us? Do they put us on a pedestal that is unreachable?

Actions to Start Culture Change

  • Consider a consultant to perform an anonymous org culture survey. Every time I’ve conducted these, leaders walked away with new insights which enabled their business to truly transform. A secret: Marshall Goldsmith's research proves that even just executing on this will yield results!

  • Experiment in low-risk ways to strengthen the muscle first and see how it feels. Include others in your process.

  • Zoom out and look at the long view. Life is a nonlinear rate of change: two steps forward, one step back. In other words, progress over perfection:

Rate of nonlinear change graph
Rate of nonlinear change


Chris Duffy leads Amplify Leadership Partners, a leadership consulting and coaching firm with expertise in retaining and motivating talent to achieve organizational success. He received his master's in Organizational Psychology with a specialization in Change Management from Columbia University. He's based in Connecticut and works with clients nationwide. He's passionate about discussing challenges, so feel free to schedule time.

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