There’s no work-life rule book, no single text that holds all the answers. Certainty is provisional; knowledge is interim; conventional wisdom can be uprooted in a day. Perfectionists are those who use a laser, not string, to align their garden rows. They ignore the well-worn path. They seek out the ultimate as if the ordinary––the normal, the acceptable––were symptoms of an illness. From early on, they harbor a secret––no half measures, no attenuation, no holding back.
“Perfectionism can drive people to accomplishments and provide the motivation to persevere in the face of discouragement and obstacles. Roedell (1984) argues: In a positive form, perfectionism can provide the driving energy which leads to great achievement. The meticulous attention to detail, necessary for scientific investigation, the commitment which pushes composers to keep working until the music realizes the glorious sounds playing in the imagination, and the persistence which keeps great artists at their easels until their creation matches their conception all result from perfectionism.
Slaney and his colleagues found that adaptive perfectionists had lower levels of procrastination than non-perfectionists. In the field of positive psychology, an adaptive and healthy variation of perfectionism is referred to as optimalism. Exceptionally talented people are often perfectionists. Many individuals now widely regarded as geniuses were obsessive about the quality of their work…”
Two concepts: the concept of “care” and the concept of “belief.” Webster defines care as “serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly…” Webster defines belief as “trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something…” Care would seem to implicate the physical whereas belief the spiritual, the incorporeal. These two concepts, when combined, work to create something greater than the sum of their parts. In a perfectionist design, one or the other will not suffice––both are required. Care and belief can be characterized as separate and distinct, but they typically work together, one bolstering the other.
“Some contend that Michelangelo‘s perfectionism motivated him to painstakingly complete works including the statue David and the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Scientists that intently pursue their interests in the laboratory are often considered perfectionists. This obsession with an end result may motivate them to work diligently and maintain an impressive work ethic. Famous figures have publicly admitted that they have perfectionist tendencies. An intense focus on one’s passion can lead to success. Martha Stewart once described herself to Oprah Winfrey as a “maniacal perfectionist.” High-achieving athletes often show signs of perfectionism as well.”
Care and belief have their role in managing a lawsuit––there’s the day-to-day mechanics of the case combined with the faith in the validity of your position. Over time, it’s the latter that will carry the day. This explains why “passion” may not be the most optimal phrase to use in this area. Too often passion is precarious, transient, with great energy seen at the beginning of a case only later to dissipate and dissolve, particularly as the weeks and months pass by. It’s belief––the “trust, faith, and confidence in someone or something”––that never loses its staying power.
“The adaptive form of perfectionism is typically considered the positive component of this personality trait. Adaptive perfectionism includes preferences for order and organization, a persistent striving for excellence, and conscientious orientation to tasks and performance. All of these characteristics are accompanied by low criticism and negativity, and high support and self-esteem. The positive, adaptive forms of perfectionism are more closely associated with the Big Five personality factor of conscientiousness, whereas maladaptive forms are more similar to neuroticism…”
Care and belief share a quality in that both do not necessarily arise innately––both are higher level proficiencies. Both are not often spoken of in brash or dramatic tones; both do not call attention to themselves. But they spin the world. They explain more than many other popular notions, perhaps due to their invisibility as much as their all-encompassing power. The perfectionist mindset can easily tip past its most optimal point; indeed, there’s a fair amount of literature which so describes. Care and belief ignite the fire while simultaneously furnishing the oxygen with which to breath. One ultimately comes to know the presence of the unseen––care and belief are a way of searching for it.
All quotations from: Wikipedia, Perfectionism,