“Perfectionism” Won’t Help Athletes On or Off the Field


The term “perfectionist” is one of the more interesting words used to describe individuals.  On the surface, the word sounds like a positive descriptor and something we should all strive toward when engaging in life challenges and tasks.  What’s wrong with going for perfection, right? Actually, a lot, according to most psychologists.

People who strive to be “perfect” often struggle with extreme levels of anxiety, stress, and even depression when failing to live up to their super-human and unrealistic expectations.  Keep in mind synonyms for the word perfect include: without fault, faultless, complete, total, and ultimate.  Failing to achieve at that level not only elevates anxiety, but can also lead to poor coping — including drug abuse, reckless behavior, and violence.

When striving for perfection you are actually setting impossible future goals, as anything less than perfection is viewed as a failure to the perfectionist.  It’s a no-win from the start, with zero room for error…

Strive for EXCELLENCE instead

When it comes to mental toughness, strive for excellence, not perfection.  By understanding and accepting that perfection is not only impossible, but also limits our happiness and success, only then can we begin to allow our true talents and abilities to be unleashed.

We do much better in life striving for excellence, as this mindset allows for human error, bad days, and even dumb luck. Synonyms for the word excellence include: quality, brilliance, greatness, and merit.  Challenging aspirations, no doubt, but far more achievable when compared to perfection.  Striving for excellence helps create a winning attitude and spirit, leads to optimal performances, and makes us happier people as a result.

Excellence + resiliency

Changing one word — perfection into excellence — is a huge paradigm shift and a true game-changer in life.  Still, it is equally important to prepare for stress, adversity, frustration, and failure by galvanizing resiliency skills to help cope when things don’t work out.  Remember, “excellence” allows for failure, and how we deal with failure will determine our long-term success and happiness.

Ditch perfectionism and strive for excellence.  Add resiliency skills to the mix, and soon enough you’ll be competing at a high level — and enjoying life more, too.


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