Interesting snippet on the radio today talking about perfectionism . Apparently it is not universally bad nor simple!
Recent studies* suggest that 'perfectionism' comes in (at least) two flavours, and has very different personal impact. The 'self-oriented perfectionist' is the sort of person who set themselves high standards, and get a buzz from pulling off a difficult task and doing it well. This in turn seems to enhance their sense of self-esteem and personal motivation, which spurs them on to continue striving to be their best.
By contrast the 'social-oriented perfectionist' has (real or imaginary) standards set for them by others. They get much less pleasure from their efforts and tend to view their work as inadequate or inferior and report experiencing external pressure or coercion to accomplish tasks. This sort of person is driven not from an internally felt desire to be their best, but more from a fear of failure . A very different place to operate from!
So what sort of perfectionist are you? Psychology Today have a nice quiz if you are interested! Click here for a link to their questionnaire.
*Kilbert, J.J., Langhinrichsen-Rohling, J., & Saito, M. (2005). Adaptive and maladaptive aspects of self-oriented versus socially prescribed perfectionism. Journal of College Student Development, 46, 141-156.