Perfectionism is not your best - Vesna Hrsto

Perfectionism is not your best

When perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun

~Brene Brown


Can't finish until a piece of work is perfect (i.e so no one could pick it apart)?

Don't raise your hand in meetings?

Don't have a seat at the table with leaders because you feel like you're not  ____ enough to be there?

Worry about ‘what people think?'

Walk past a mirror and judge your reflection?

Fear of ‘doing it wrong' or making a mistake stops you?

Hold yourself back from asking for a raise or applying for a new job?


Women are more likely than men to be perfectionist. We hold ourselves back until we're 100% sure we can predict the outcome.

You may not be perfectionist in everything you do, but in the areas where you feel most vulnerable to shame.

I remember working in corporate years ago, my work was very imperfect and that was okay.

BUT when I write online is when I feel like a perfectionist because I feel ‘exposed'.  And I can tell you from experience, it can suffocate your best work.

How can you be innovative, creative or revolutionary when you're keeping within the lines?! How can you be your most authentic self if you feel it's not safe?!

We're bombarded with social media portraying the ‘perfect life', ‘perfect body', ‘perfect partner' or the ‘perfect job', which contributes to this sense of being ‘not enough'.

Essentially, we're scared that if people see the real us then we won't measure up.

The thing we miss?

Perfection doesn't exist.

Or as Salvador Dali brilliantly says “Have no fear of perfection, you'll never reach it”

Brene Brown calls it the 20-tonne shield and says

it's a way of thinking that says, if I look perfect, live perfect, work perfect I can avoid or minimise criticism, shame, blame and ridicule. All perfectionism is, is a 20 tonne shield we carry around hoping that it will keep us from getting hurt.

When in truth, what it does is keeps us from being seen”

Perfect people don't exist, but great people do. We can only be great through our authenticity.

The difference between a healthy drive for excellence and perfectionism – the latter always involves a sense of worthiness. It's not about what you really want but what other people will think.

As Brene says, you can't do anything really brave if you're wearing the ‘straight-jacket' of what will people think.

Being authentic is something we create and practice.

We decide what authentic is for ourselves, because if we rely on our default self, this one has been programmed. It's the self that was shaped by rules, manners, schools, society, people pleasing, friends, family, religion, etc.

You get to author your own authentic self.

This is something every person should take the time to do.

I do it in my work with clients, author their authentic self in their career, business, relationship and friendships.

A quote I read a while back and I'm not sure where but it's always stuck with me when I'm stepping out of my comfort zone:

Being referred to as ‘good or ‘bad' comes from having acted



p.s Ironically, I struggled to get his blog pic perfect as the ballon is actually attached to chair…But I'm okay with it 🙂

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  • Paul

    Very insightful column. I absolutely love the Brene Brown quote, “When perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun.” It is a real truism. Also, her description of perfectionism being a shield against being hurt is also spot on! I often think that a lot of the feelings of inadequacy that individuals experience is probably rooted in childhood trauma. The good news is that it is reversible using an approach that emphasizes self-compassion.

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