Perfectionism isn't enough

The quest for perfection can act as a real spur to achievement. There can be much joy in striving to bring a task to its fullest and finest state of completion. For some, however, the positive desire to be perfect, to do perfect work, can turn sour in what becomes an obsession.

While it might seem like a virtue, even a blessing, to be a perfectionist, it really isn't. If we're obsessed with every technicality, every eventuality, and consumed with a need to make perfect some object or task, what we often find is that despite excessive ambition our work is never quite good enough.

Is there something fundamentally wrong, then, with the strenuous effort to be perfect in all that we do? Certainly this has to be better than a halfhearted, careless approach to things. Yet, it's wise to question whether perfectionism is really the right response to the deep-felt impulse to be perfect.

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In next week's Sentinel—
October 25, 1993

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