Perfectionism – fear in high heels


IMG_2528“I’m not going to show anyone this piece of work until it’s absolutely ready!”

It’s a phrase I hear a lot from my creative clients. You may relate to this!

It sounds reasonable enough. You want your work to be a high standard.

But why?

Well, perhaps because you want to GUARANTEE that people will like what you do.

So there’s the catch.  If you are honest, you realise that this has the whiff of the biggest enemy to creativity – PERFECTIONISM!

In hther latest book “Big Magic”, Elizabeth Gilbert explains how women are especially prone to this phenomenon.  She describes it as ‘fear in a mink coat and high heels’.  I would also include ambitious men, who can hide their fear of failure or judgement underneath a veneer of striving for excellence.

It prevents us from promoting our ideas, applying for jobs or simply finishing projects. Unconsciously, we know that if we finish, then we won’t have any excuse not to share it.

I know one client who even described how he would book a deadline to finish a book, and at the same time he would plan to get the flu.

It is a huge barrier to step over perfectionism, but here are some ways that I have found can help:

  1. Learn to be compassionate with yourself and focus on your positives. Perfectionist thinking is focusing on what isn’t working. If you retrain your brain to scan for positive traits, you will boost your confidence and courage to share.
  1. Focus on ‘good enough’ rather than perfect. Perfection is impossible to achieve and will always create a barrier. Research shows that people who focus on ‘good’ tend to progress faster because they are able to share, gather feedback and move on.
  1. Take one small risk every day. Big risks can be foolhardy, but small risks can build up your resilience muscle. Contact the company you really want to work for make a phone call, offer to do a speech.
  1. Inject fun into the mix. Perfection seeking creates tension and restricts creativity. Fun allows us to relax , take more risks and access our creativity.

5. Come to my “Playful Presence’ Workshop on Friday 2nd October in London

If you fancy the ‘perfect’ 😉 arena for unleashing creativity, self expression and risk taking – I have four places left on my ‘Playful Presence’ workshop aimed at ambitious creatives who want to be bolder. I’m only running it once, so don’t miss out!


It will help you to embrace your shyness, let go of perfectionism and learn to have fun talking in public.

Finally – Leave a comment!

I would love to hear your experiences of handling perfectionism and what works for you.

Please leave a comment below.

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