Perfectionism on Steroids: All or Nothing

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Are you an all or nothing kind of person? All or nothing is a perfectionism issue people often don’t even realize they have. Many people don’t realize that by being inflexible, you are really saying I want it all or nothing.

The problem with this approach is that quite often it gets you nowhere. Instead of getting to realize the gains that could come by being flexible you often end up sitting at the starting line all alone. Is that where you really want to be?

When it comes to work related issues, one of my favorite quotes is by Mark Cuban, “Perfectionism is the enemy of profitability.” The all or nothing mentality is perfectionism on steroids. Thus, all or nothing is not just the enemy of profitability, it is also the enemy of progress. And for our everyday lives, take out the word profitability and replace it with any goal. Replace the word profitability with success, happiness or any other goal you are striving for and it still stands true.

All or nothing is the enemy of ___________ and progress.


You have no idea how many projects I’ve seen crash and burn in the professional world because of the all or nothing mentality. Each and every project cost the company both a ton of money and progress. I’ve seen projects survive perfectionism, but very seldom do they survive all or nothing.

The fact is we need to be steadfast in our overall vision, we need to strive for excellence, but we need to realize the final results will vary and that is ok. And do you know what is amazing? If we open ourselves up to being flexible, we often end up with an end results that is better than our original vision. Yes better! That is one of the reasons the all or nothing train wreck is so hard to watch. It holds you back!!

We need to understand our objective, sometimes the stated objective is really not what we are after. It can distract us from being able to identify what is really important and thus where we can be flexible. You have to be able to step back and see the big picture. And when you can’t, it is like trying to navigate a dark dense forest without a map or orienteering skills. You will end up lost or nowhere.

Let’s use an example pretty much everyone can relate to, relationships. I have a friend who use to refuse to date guys based on height. What was her goal? Was she looking for someone who just looked good on her arm or was she looking for a relationship that would last? Who knows! As it turns out when she found the one, that height criteria went right out the window. So obviously, she didn’t find that criteria all that important to her real objective.

I have another friend who refuses to waver from her list for the ideal mate. She is single and the few people I’ve known her to date have all met the requirements on her list, but none of those relationships end up lasting. Could it be that by having shallow requirements, down to hair color might I add, that she is missing out on something better. That she is missing out on meeting the one who really is her one?

There is no such thing as perfect. It’s a fact. There is exceptional, there is fantastic, there is good enough and a thousand other things, but there is not perfect. We set ourselves up for failure when we decide things have to be perfect. Know what you want, strive for excellence, but open yourself up to possibilities you haven’t considered and see what happens.

I’d love to hear your experience with this topic.

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