Boost Performance by Ditching Perfectionism

Having been raised by a family of hard workers, my definition of a “successful career” changed so much over my ten years in tech. In university, it meant “get a full-time job before anyone else” (in my home country, working full time while pursuing a bachelor’s degree is allowed, and in many cases a matter of survival). After graduating, it became “be the number one by never making mistakes” (!?). Now, it is simply “be comfortable in your own skin and things will follow”.

Perfectionism led me towards social anxiety and self-doubt. After overcoming those issues – or learning how to cope with them, at least – I recently realized the positive impact on my professional and personal life:

  • My second company (Teamworki!) is already more successful than my first endeavour. Maybe not financially (yet), but I’m solving a problem way more interesting than the one before, impacting more people, and aligning my purpose with my professional goals. Rather than trying to build a pixel-perfect software, we embraced our flaws by quickly testing new concepts and iterating on feedback.
  • I got promoted to a Director position in a SaaS company with over 300 employees and explosive revenue growth year after year. I got the chance to work with amazing talent and share my lessons learned, helping those folks overcome similar challenges I faced. We adopted a culture of rapid experimentation, putting learning above “perfection”.
  • For the first time in my life, I accepted coworkers in my personal life, and many became best friends. I made myself vulnerable, rather than feeding an archetype around the “professional me” (which was very different from the “real me”).

Don’t get me wrong: my perfectionism is still there, attempting to come back every once in a while. But being conscious about that, while keeping the side effects at bay, brought amazing wins to my life and the teams around me. Here’s a list of insightful books that paved the way for that journey, alongside the key learnings each provided.

  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (Mark Manson): this is a GEM. Best self-improvement book I’ve ever bumped into. Mark is a wake-up call, showing how problems that look gigantic in your mind (due to perfectionism, for instance) might not be a big deal at all, and how you can find something really meaningful to give a f*ck about.
  • How to be Yourself (Ellen Hendriksen): as the author explained, “being judged doesn’t render the judger correct”. This book does a bang-up job explaining what positive perfectionism means and how it can be helpful to you, without causing the awful side effects I went through above.
  • EQ Applied (Justin Barriso): the best team players have high empathy and don’t waste their time pursuing the wrong problems. EQ Applied helps you put yourself on the other’s shoes, visualizing the big picture, and then – through compassionate empathy – solving problems effectively.

Based on my own experience, as paradoxical as it may seem, high performance and perfectionism can’t coexist for too long. If this topic resonates with you, give those books a read and let me know how they helped you (and your teams) be on the right track again.

Teamworki isn’t a magic pill for beating perfectionism, but it can help you and your team gauge morale and establish a safe space for discussions, so you can be the best version of yourselves in a more sustainable way. Sign up below, it’s free!