4 Direct Disciplines to Help You Succeed as a Perfectionist

by | Dec 14, 2016

I want to be perfect.

Yet I know that’s not happening. Like ever. But I still want it. And worse.

I want you to be perfect.

I want you to always smile back when I smile. I want you to always say “you’re welcome” in response to my “thank you.” I want you to always remember our interactions as the epitome of ecstasy.

But I must share that I comprehend no one’s perfect. And I’m self aware enough to see it’s my fault I want you to be perfect.

Beware: I’m a flawed fool full of unreasonable expectations.


I’ve been an aspiring perfectionist all of my life. (Just not with grammar or punctuation.)

I’ve rewritten sentences hundreds of times because I want them to read like God wrote them. I’ve edited the same pages for years because I want readers to think like I made a deal with the devil for unparalleled prose.

Except I’ve never achieved perfection so I’ve despised myself for falling short. Here’s four quick and true scenarios of how my brain’s processed my failed attempts to be flawless:

Question 1: Why did I edit that last sentence fifteen times?

Answer 1: I must communicate without error.

Guilt trip 1: It’s just an email!

Question 2: Why did my wife have to ask me to stop carving my pumpkin after four hours?

Answer 2: I must produce a pristine piece of Halloween art.

Guilt trip 2: The love of your life deserves your attention more than a large, hollow fruit!

Question 3: How did I miss that important detail?

Answer 3: I must be all-knowing.

Guilt trip 3: Dave, you should have foreseen this. You’re all about the details!

Question 4: Is this is who I am?

Answer 4: This is who I want to be.

Guilt trip 4: This is who I must stop being!


I’ve always thought that perfectionism was a curse because everyone told me to “Stop being a perfectionist!”

Crap, even I’ve suggested the pursuit of perfection was wrong in a relationship or when talking to the page. But I’m now starting to see that my perfectionist tendencies may be one of my greatest strengths.

Because in the eyes of this beholder, my pursuit of perfection pushes me to create stuff I’m proud to share with the world. My mission to meet perfection compels me to produce results not possible unless I craved a perfect version of me, myself, and I.

So what’s wrong with that?

Nothing. (Anymore.)

And that’s why I’m ready to double down on my perfectionist tendencies. And that’s why I encourage you to double down on yours… assuming you’re infected with the same “curse.”

Please just understand there’s a perfect balance of four disciplines required if you’re going to embrace your perfectionism, and these are those disciplines according to this self-proclaimed lucid storyteller:

1. Being a perfectionist cannot stop you from shipping your work.

Do you know how many times I’ve revised The Storytelling Blueprint? Do you know how many blog posts I’ve published and edited a day or week later? (Countless in both cases.)

Oh yeah, I recently created an entire novel writing course full of videos and actions teps. Do you know how much of it I had to improve, update, and edit later? (More than I’d care to admit here.)

Perfect balance: Pursue perfection, ship imperfection, and edit it all later to make it as near perfect as possible.

2. Create your version of perfect, not someone else’s.

You must seek perfection in your unique way.

Yep, I’ve tried to mirror the perceived perfect writers who have influenced me, but it never comes out right. Uh, that’s because I’m not them and neither are you.

So that means you must transcribe your thoughts using your one-of-a-kind voice. That means you must manifest your mind to the page without regard to how others did it before you.

Because only you can create in your perfect way.

Perfect balance: Do you, represent you, and broadcast 100% of your (im)perfect glory.

3. Never believe your work is perfect.

You must always seek perfection and never give up.

Don’t you understand the curse of your perfectionist tendencies? They want to be without fault and deliver unattainable results.

Catch 22: Nothing ever turns out perfect.

Yeah, sometimes it’s acceptable. Other times it’s permissible. Many times it’s appreciated despite being deprecated. (So yeah, the trolls have been swarming this week. Thankfully, they’re not perfect either.)

Perfect balance: Your perfectionist tendencies fuel you. They drive you. So permit that internal fire to compel you to perform better than the rest. Show everyone that the alleged curse is simply a gift they don’t possess.

4. Prohibit your perfectionism from hurting others.

You know you’re not perfect, but you still expect perfection from others.

So your perfectionist tendencies spill outside of you and impact people you care about. Then you guilt trip yourself over your critical words and more. (Damn, we’re some twisted humans aren’t we?)

Well, here’s where you must amplify your self-awareness and lean on your perfectionist tendencies to help you navigate your criticism.

Slow down and think about the perfect way to craft your “helpful” feedback or look for the perfect moment to keep your mouth shut with your impossible expectations.

Perfect balance: Remember you’re often a mess. Remember your surroundings are often a mess. Remember that you and the people surrounding you often connect to create a perfect mess.


Straight up, this post is my imperfect piece seeking peace on the page.

Because my soul’s committed to repairing the cracks inside my broken persona. But I’m also hell-bent on helping you… Not that you need fixing.

I just worry that people (like me) may have told you it’s wrong to seek perfection with your creativity and artwork.

So maybe it’s time someone told you it’s okay to embrace the perfectionist thriving inside you?

Because maybe that’s what will help you succeed and fulfill your purpose?

Blah, I’ve got no perfect line to end this thing. Balance that perfectionists. 😉

P.S. I’ve edited this post five times since originally publishing it on 12/15/2016 at my blog. It still ain’t close to perfect in my eyes, but at least it’s out there while I keep trying. 😯