There’s a bit of confusion when it comes to striving for excellence and striving for perfection. Perfection is unattainable. Striving for perfection keeps you parallel from not doing anything because everything done is going to have some fault in it. Striving for excellence means having higher standards. Higher standards come with the territory of continual improvement.
Impossibly High Standards
So I guess you can say that the difference between excellence and perfection is the attainability of the high standard. Even though excellence can be hard to achieve, it is achievable. Whereas, perfectionism is futile. The inability to reach perfection causes stress and could negatively affect your well being. Because striving for perfection is impossible, you will fail if this becomes the goal. This gives you the mentality of a failure. Even worse, if you have unrealistic expectations of the people around you, it will result in eroding relationships due to unnecessary frustrations.
Mistakes = Failure
Someone who strives for excellence knows that there will be mistakes that’ll be made. Even better, they look forward to the mistakes as an opportunity to learn. A perfectionist sees a mistake as inferiority. A perfectionist comes off as a know it all that cannot fail in any endeavor that the perfectionist enlists. Mistakes are not acceptable. This is not a realistic outlook for anyone and brings nothing but stress to the individual. You are going to be constantly disappointed if you expect to do the impossible. Even if the perfectionist accomplishes a goal, he/she may not even be happy with the outcome because it was never the best it could be.
Attached to the Outcome
Someone who strives for excellence value the process, sometimes even more than the outcome. The process is what gives an expected outcome, so if the process isn’t done in excellence then what would you expect the outcome to be? The learning, the relationships built, and the memories created along the way are just as important as our expectations. The outcome, sometimes, isn’t a reflection of effort so knowing that we did our best can overrule any less than stellar outcome.
The perfectionist is result oriented in contrast. Not meeting a goal, or an perceived outcome is a disappointment. A perfectionist can only think of everything that went wrong if the given result was not met. There is no value in learning from things done imperfectly. There is no learning because this person already knows everything, so the only thing left in life is “success.”
The idea of success is also rigid for those who practice perfectionism. He/she has his/her idea of what success is and anything else is unacceptable. Excellence is fluid and those who strive for it can adjust goals and expectations as needed.
Strive for Excellence
When you strive for excellence, you can rest assure that every job you do is a job well done. We will make mistakes. Mistakes are a given. The difference is that we learn from these mistakes and not let them define us.