Perfectionism is Dead-end

Ron McIntyre
3 min readFeb 19, 2024

Many people with perfectionism think their belief system leads them to better performance. They believe it pushes them to be better than they usually would be.

There’s some truth to this, but it depends on how you play it. If you look at perfection as a mere suggestion or a standard, you should be okay. At least it gives you something to aim for.

Do not just focus on what’s in front of you. Do not just focus on what’s conventional or expedient. In this context, perfectionism can be a tremendous help.

However, too many people suffer from perfectionism because their intentions differ. They’re motivated by something else. They live their lives according to other people’s rules and expectations.

As I said, having an idea of “the perfect” can help you if it acts as a standard that will push you to behave or perform better than you usually would. However, if your idea of what’s perfect revolves around other people’s rules and expectations, then there will be a problem.

You’re no longer living your life for yourself. You’re living your life for somebody else. You start living according to unrealistic standards you do not control. You keep trying to please others and are no longer in charge of the process. It’s too easy to run yourself ragged. It is not unusual for people in this situation to chase their tails only to end up with nothing after all that time, effort, and bother. Tragic!

The truth is that standards should push you but not intimidate you. They shouldn’t grind you down or put you in a position where you will burn out sooner rather than later. Instead of a burden, the idea of perfection should put a spring in your step and add vibrancy to your daily efforts.

Unfortunately, it’s very easy to do this with perfectionism intended to impress others or live up to other standards. It’s also very easy to do this if your pursuit of perfection is done out of some sense of obligation.

You end up being intimidated by these standards. They seem impossible. They seem so distant. Things can get so back that perfection can appear mocking! Instead of something that’s supposed to inspire you and push you upward and out, they intimidate you so much that you end up discouraged. You don’t want to wake up the next day to do the same thing repeatedly. It gets old very quickly.

Make no mistake. Standards should inspire you for something greater and higher. You know you’re dealing with the wrong standards when they make you hate yourself, doubt yourself, or grind yourself down.

Please know the difference because perfectionism is a dead-end. You end up chasing your tail, running after shadows, and at the end of the day, even if you achieve your goals, you’re left holding an empty bag.



Ron McIntyre

Ron McIntyre is a Leadership Anthropologist, Author, and Consultant, who, in semi-retirement, is looking to help people who really want to make a difference.