Friday, October 16, 2015


While cleaning out a file drawer, I found an assessment from when I worked full-time. Unlike a typical performance evaluation, this was a “360” where you get feedback from colleagues at different levels—your boss, peers, people you manage or mentor.  
At first, I didn’t want to look at it because I remember being disappointed in the results.
I looked at it anyway. To my surprise, my performance was rated in “excellent shape.”
So why had “excellent shape” disappointed me?
In a few areas, one or two people disagreed with the majority—16 people said I was a very good or excellent listener, encouraging and sensitive to others’ needs, fair and consistent.
Two said I was not.
Because Excellent isn’t Perfect, my over-active perfectionist gene zeroed-in on the negative feedback and the positive got blotted out.
Does that ever happen to you?
Like many things in life, perfectionism in moderation can be beneficial. It helps me to set high standards, reach for goals, and be true to my values.
What’s not beneficial is perfectionism on steroids that obsesses about the expectations of others and fixates on failings and mistakes. I've worked on modulating hyper-active perfectionism most of my adult life.
It helps me to refocus on Progress not Perfection. Today, I know I’m making progress and growing, because I look at that old “360” and instead of the negative it's the positive that stands out.  
So what do you think, is Progress not Perfection what hope and growth are all about?


  1. Carol,

    I have never been a perfectionist; I would say I am a "good-enoughist." So I would have looked at that 360 and taken the bad with the good without a second thought. (And why do you still have that thing in your file drawer? Did you toss it?)

    I inherited this "what me worry" character trait from my dad, and it has served me pretty well in life. I can see him with this funny smile and a shrug of his shoulders after he screwed something up, a kind of "oh well." I don't recall my parents ever challenging the Bs on my report card either. (Cs and Ds got a rise out of them.) Does that mean they had low expectations? I don't think so. It was good enough.

    Lately, when things have gone off perfect at work, I apologize, fix it if possible and thank the gods that I didn't decide to be a brain surgeon. I admit that I would have stressed more about screw ups 10 years ago. Pending retirement has been empowering.

    Of course doing well is a lofty goal. Nobody sets out to fail. But failure is a great teacher, isn't it?

    So I'm glad you are giving yourself a mulligan in your life now. That's growth.


    1. Chris, I love "good-enoughist"
      and, silly me, I didn't toss it. Guess I need to reread my old post, What We Keep :)