How to be perfect

I like to do things well. Do you?

I also tend to stop when it’s “good enough”. And that shit doesn’t come easy to a whole lot of people.

And I get it. I’ve spent a lot of time working on the last 5% of something that I knew would have been much better spent on moving onto the next thing. And I still kept going. Sound familiar?

To many non-perfectionists it can seem like such a valuable asset. Imagine being SO driven to deliver excellence that it seems like everything they touch just comes out fantastic! Well, what they don’t see is how much of a pain it is not to be able to stop at good enough, how nothing’s ever good enough, how your inner critic tells you that anything that isn’t perfection really is just terrible work, and that you can never deliver anything that you’re truly happy about and proud of.

But wait, anything?

A recent client of mine got me thinking about perfection and we thought about under what conditions “perfection” could actually be a thing. What we came up with was the necessity of rules – the simpler, the better. Because there is such thing as “a perfect game”, is there not?!

I thought of bowling, a game in which there’s a very well defined perfect score. I immediately thought that technique can always be improved in some way, yes, but the score remains perfect if you strike on every move. A perfect score. And yet, I’m sure a perfectionist would find something to do better…

The simpler the game, the higher the chance of reaching perfection. And the higher the chance the game will get boring. Because, let’s face it, where are you gonna go after you reach perfection? Life’s exciting because it’s an infinite game. You can’t win. The rules are at best incredibly complex, and really just made up, or loosely agreed upon in particular contexts.

Same with business, or relationships, or parenting. How do you define “winning”? What are the rules?

If you figure that out, define the rules well, and keep it all very simple… well I guess you can calm down your perfectionist tendencies, or even set yourself up for a perfect game. It also helps to consider your values, ethical principles, or whatever else you’d consider your very own “rules of life”. But if you’re taking this too far, I also think you’d be missing the point of living, and miss out on the beauty of life’s complexities. After all, life’s not something you can really “win”. At the end we’re all dead.

Bottom line is that I see perfectionists suffer, because perfection can only exist in very specific cirumstances. Yes, perfectionists seem to deliver excellent work, and it can be a tremendous asset, especially for organisations. But boy, do I not want to change places. It’s not a pleasant experience of going through life and work.

So consider this next time you find yourself envious about someone else’s productivity. You never know what kind of pain fuels their motivation.

Having the privilege in my line of work to spend some time inside people’s minds really puts some things into perspective. And I believe putting things into perspective has a huge impact on happiness and wellbeing.

With Love


New Content: A Listening Life podcast

There are a million different ways of establishing a business. And I believe that, when it comes to coaching, because it’s so relationship-based, it’s crucial that we find a way to run our business authentically, in a way that resonates with our values and beliefs. I’ve learned early that if I try to force myself into a blueprint, I’m not going to last long.

And so I loved being a guest on Aly King-Smith‘s podcast, The Listening Life, whose curiosity and passion about helping coaches build businesses that last, got me talking about how I’ve built my own coaching business – my way. It’s packed with little practical nuggets and pieces of business advice, combined with things to think about as you engage on your journey towards building a sustainable (coaching) business.

You can listen to this episode here or anywhere you find your podcasts.

New content: New Coaching Uncaged episode

“TA changed my life” is what I’ve heard from a number of coaches and coaching clients, perhaps most notably from the CEO of a large coaching school. As an accessible model to understand relationship dynamics, and as a tool box for working with relationship issues and puzzling behavioural patterns, it’s such a valuable lens for anyone to acquire, to help us understand ourselves and others better.

In this context, I’m excited to share a new episode of Coaching Uncaged by Animas, for which we dive deep into the world of Transactional Analysis (TA) with the author of “Transactional Analysis Coaching”, Karen Pratt.

As Animas put it:

“Join us in this episode as we explore the world of Transactional Analysis & Coaching with Karen Pratt, who is not only deeply immersed in the field but also brings a wealth of credentials to her practice. Karen holds a PCC credential from the ICF, a Diploma in Coach Supervision from Coaching Development, and stands out with her international Transactional Analysis certification as a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst (TSTA) in the educational field. Her journey into coaching and Transactional Analysis was sparked by her fascination with the meaning-making processes of humans and how these processes are enhanced within authentic and trusting relationships. Karen applies Transactional Analysis principles both in her coaching practice and her educational endeavours, including her role at Coaching Development and in her own TA training groups, ranging from introductory to advanced levels. Her commitment to the field is further evidenced by her role as Co-Chair of the Professional Standards Committee of the International Transactional Analysis Association (ITAA), her contributions to the Transactional Analysis Journal, and her work on the book “Transactional Analysis Coaching” for the Routledge Coaching Distinctive Features series. Karen’s influence extends globally through her online educational initiatives, touching lives across various continents from South Africa to Sweden, and beyond.

Tune in to discover how Karen Pratt’s expertise and passion for Transactional Analysis have made a significant impact in the world of coaching.”

You can watch or listen to this episode.