Do you see yourself as a perfectionist?

I know I do. I also have heard many Speechies refer to themselves in this way. 

But is it perfectionism or mastery that we are striving for?

It’s important to know which is driving you because they come from very different places with very different outcomes. 

Perfectionism is a pursuit of flawlessness driven by fear of failure and a need for external validation. It sets unrealistic, unattainable standards and is characterised by:

  • Fear of mistakes
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Tying self-worth to external approval
  • Heightened stress and anxiety

On the other hand, mastery is about continuous growth, learning, and improvement. It embraces resilience, intrinsic motivation, and the understanding that mistakes are opportunities for growth. Mastery is characterised by:

  • Focus on learning and progress
  • Resilience in the face of setbacks
  • Finding joy in the process itself
  • Seeking intrinsic rewards and fulfilment

Often we are driven to learn more, do better, unlearn and relearn in order to be better therapists, better supervisors and better business owners. This is noble, worthwhile and helps not only ourselves but also our profession.

When we lean into perfectionism, we are all about lack. Of not being good enough. Of needing to cure the imposter syndrome and it never has an endpoint.

Mastery on the other hand is more gentle, more forgiving. It is about moving forward and can look different on different days.

So when you are striving to be better and to do better ask yourself – what is my motivation? 

If possible, turn it towards mastery. The willingness to acknowledge not knowing and seeing it as an opportunity, rather than what’s lacking. 

By doing so, not only are you continuing to grow in your skills but you are curbing the self criticism, moving away from the imposter syndrome and growing your self-trust and confidence.