Are you a healthy strivers or a perfectionist?

I was listening to Brené Brown speak on Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail podcast recently and she was talking about the difference between ‘healthy strivers’ and perfectionism. Given that in my Master Your Inner Critic book and with my clients, I talk about the ‘tyranny of perfectionism’, my ears pricked up when Brené started talking about this.


What is the tyranny of perfectionism? 

The‘tyranny of perfectionismis when: 

  • You sometimes don't even start on a task or project because you are so afraid of getting it wrong or it not being perfect. I always say to would-be writers who are afraid of the blank page, ‘just write, later you can edit, throw out, and add in ideas. You write first, edit later’.
  • You spend so long preparing that you neglect your health, sleep, etc. which undermines your performance anyway.
  • You miss deadlines trying for perfection, when the person on the receiving end just wanted to see what you were doing, perfect or not.
  • You waste so much time and energy, getting yourself stressed when people would not notice the difference between your 2nd or 3rd draft and your 12th draft!

What is a healthy striver (and how is it different to perfectionism)?

Healthy Striversoperate in a very different way and I feel it links into having a growth mindset. It involves: 

  • Wanting to improve yourself but not at the cost of everything else, including your health and happiness.
  • Learning from your experiences, seeking to improve yourself.
  • Knowing that mistakes and setbacks are part of life, learning and growing as a human being.
  • Recognising the need to work smarter versus harder and harder.
  • Recognising that there is no such thing as perfection and knowing when to stop.

As it happens, as I was writing this, one of Greg Mckeown’s 1-minute Strategies landed in my inbox, which relates to this topic. He says:
‘When tempted to overthink or overengineer a project, go through the following steps:

  1. Evaluate the effort you have already put into the project.
  2. Ask yourself if more effort would enhance or complicate the project.
  3. If the extra effort would complicate the task - stop.’

How to apply this to yourself

Applying this to yourself, ask yourself … 

  • Am I a healthy striver or suffering from the ‘tyranny of perfectionism’?  
  • What would be all the benefits of striving in a healthy way, both in and out of work?  
  • If you are a perfectionist, in what ways does this hinder your performance, your health and contentment in life? Perfectionists usually do not leave their perfection at work, so how much of your home and social life is negatively impacted by the tyranny of perfectionism?  
  • Use Greg’s three questions above to help you to stop much earlier than you would usually.

Do you want to move towards healthy striving?

Take my Free Coaching Audit to explore how coaching can help you to thrive both in and out of work. Either email or complete the form on my new website, Inspire Transformation
Sign up today for my eight-week video-based Being & Doing: Spring Into Action course which starts on Monday 6 March. Bearing in mind the cost of living crisis there is a 50% discount on the 8-week course, you pay £49 versus £99. Only 88p a day, and you have lifetime access to the materials. See my website for more information or email to book your place.
There are also discounts for multiple bookings and charities – email for more information about this.

‘Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.’  

- Eugene Delacroix 

Melanie Greene
Occupational Psychologist
Coach, trainer, workplace mediator and writer
Inspire Transformation
Specialist in tackling stress and conflict at work
T: 01865 377334

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Kidlington OX5 & New Malden KT3
Written by Melanie Greene, AFBPS, MSc Free coaching audit for all prospective clients
Kidlington OX5 & New Malden KT3

Melanie Greene, Occupational Psychologist, NLP Master Practitioner with over 35 years experience. She is a coach, trainer and mediator specialising in communication issues at work and helping people become resilient. Melanie's Monday Motivational Messages are now available register

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