Perfectionists are people whose ego is so strong as to prevent them from making decisions when risk of failure predominates. Perfectionists fear failure. Though very smart people, perfectionists are often slow learners because they deprive themselves of one of the best learning experiences that life has to offer: failure.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

As much as I could feel the frustration of a wanna-be hedge-fund trader whom I watched on my TV set the other night, I could not help but repeatedly asking myself why such brilliant people can’t see the obvious. Their ego is so powerful that they fear rejection, making a wrong decision, fear failure. They’d have been terrible work assistants to Thomas Edison.

It seems that every time I meet someone who justifies their behaviour with the comment, “I’m a perfectionist”, it is a comment that results from either inaction or, when an action succeeds, the result of an extraordinary amount of time to make that decision.  I recently witnessed one woman struggling with tears of frustration, or a psychological habit of hiding behind her tears as a defense mechanism, while explaining to her supervisor, “I just can’t make a decision because I’m a perfectionist and pride myself on making intelligent decisions.”  Hm-m-m-m.  I had to noodle on that statement for a bit.

There you have it. Analysis paralysis. Using the excuse that one is a perfectionist, when such a quality interferes with taking action, is merely a cover for fearing failure.

Profits are made from taking more correct actions than wrong actions. Not from avoiding intelligent, business risk.

Perfectionists seldom appreciate the hidden cost of lost opportunities. In business, resources must be spread across opportunities. When there are choices between opportunities, the ideal decision is to take the choice that offers the greatest upside. Taking too much time to make a decision can waste the gains that may have been enjoyed by making the decision quicker and jumping into that better opportunity sooner. In other words, both inaction AND taking too long to make a decision to take action, are both “FAILS”.

A good example of high-risk scenarios where all the data in the world will add only incrementally to the decision is that of trading in the stock and foreign exchange markets. A person could look at charts, graphs, financial information, a smorgasbord of data, until one is blue in the face. At some point, the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in.

Perfectionists can benefit from our series of Nuggets on this website around the concept of the Pareto “Law”. [See: CAREER OVERDRIVE-PART-5: LEARN TO LOVE PARETO   ….but also use our search box for the term “Pareto” to enjoy the other Nuggets for time management and prioritizing your goals.]

If you are a “Perfectionist” don’t bother applying for a job as a day trader. The need for quick decisions based on imprecise information will drive you insane.

Another job that would be over the head of any perfectionist is that of entrepreneur. This job depends on mastering the art of moving forward with very little data and certainty.

If you are a “Perfectionist” don’t bother applying for a job as an entrepreneur, or for a test pilot, for that matter.

Perfectionists are the polar opposite of those leaders who make decisions based on Managerial Ego.  [See: IMO-INVESTING IN MANAGERIAL EGO]