Why tackling perfectionism must go beyond ‘letting things go’

Perfectionists are known for making impressive strides. These high-achievers are often some of our most well known popular culture figures. Martha Stewart, Barbra Streisand, and Serena Williams are all leaders in their fields, with achievements and towering net worths among them.

Perhaps surprisingly, much of this success can be attributed to perfectionism. All three women are self-described perfectionists, and happy to credit their perfectionism as an integral part of their quest for greatness. Yet each one has a differing view on the subject. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Stewart said: “I’m a maniacal perfectionist. And if I weren’t, I wouldn’t have this company.” Meanwhile, Streisand claims “to strive for excellence.” And Williams takes an altogether different tack; in an essay around International Women’s Day, she wrote: “I want to make it clear that perfection is an impossible goal and should never be a true pursuit in life.”

If this sounds confusing, a closer look at perfectionism and techniques to manage it can help bring light to the topic.


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