Endo Mastery

PERFECTIONISM VS IDEALISM

Is perfectionism holding you back? In this article, learn how perfectionism can create a false sense of difficulty, and how idealism is a better strategy for making progress on goals!

CYNTHIA GOERIG | CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

There’s an old college joke about the difference between a mathematician and an engineer. At a party, someone asks them both the same question: “There’s a drink sitting on the table 30 feet away on the other side of the room. If you can travel half the distance across the room to the drink in one second, and then half of the remaining distance in the next second, and then half again in the following second, how long until you reach the drink?”

 

The mathematician quickly answers “Never!”, realizing that the distance to the drink is a limit being approached but never reached by an exponential curve. The engineer however thinks for a moment and says, “In about 10 seconds, I’ll be a third of an inch away, and that’s close enough to grab it.”

 

A perfectionist (like the mathematician) always measures how far they are from a goal. In every situation, they quickly identify limits, roadblocks, inconsistencies and unknowns that amplify the distance to the goal. They want all these things answered and known before they even believe they can achieve the goal. And so, the biggest problem a perfectionist often has is getting started, because they have all these negative variables telling them to wait until they have the complete answer.

 

We rarely have all the answers for any goal, challenge or problem we are facing. So that’s why being an idealist (like the engineer) is so important. Idealists measure how close they are to achieving the goal, and they think in steps. Take the first step, and then you’ve moved forward and you can work on the next step with better information and experience. And eventually, you achieve something close enough to your original goal that it feels exactly the same with the same benefits.

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