It’s something that people often look at as a positive personality trait. All it means is that person is dedicated to making sure their work is the very best it can be, right?
Perfectionism is like a disease, it gradually creeps into your subconscious and begins picking at your confidence, looking for weak spots, seeking out any underlying fears, phobias or trepidations.
Then, it slips into your conscious mind and latches onto every single idea you have sucking the life out of it until you question the validity of any new concept that pops into your head.
It creates this one constant question: Is this good enough?
It pushes you to compare your ideas to other already successful ideas every step of the way, perfectionism is never satisfied with the work in front of you — it’s a killer. It kills new ideas, it kills dreams, it kills anything that is outside of the norm.
It tells you to NEVER think outside of the box because… what if you fail? Your thoughts need to be neatly lined up and organized inside of the box; all the while suffocating any sort of original thoughts you may come up with.
Which brings me to my main point. You know what the #1 thing is that perfectionism kills?
It hates the very notion of being creative because creativity isn’t black and white. There oftentimes is no right or wrong answer; it’s subjective.
In all reality, perfectionism really doesn’t have anything to do with how well something is done. It more or less a demon spawn born from our own personal fears and insecurities.
And when you have perfectionism forcing your brain to analyze and re-analyze your ideas over and over again until everything is jumbled up in your head and you can’t even organize your own thoughts because your brain has turned into a giant dish of scrambled eggs — And not the good kind. The runny, undercooked kind — It makes it nearly impossible to produce a fully-formed thought.
Personally, I consider myself a strange combination of Type A and Type B personalities. I’m organized, ambitious and a little bit neurotic. But I’m also tolerant, emotional and creative — this circles back to my rant.
Perfectionism one of those unfortunate traits I inherited from my Type A side and it REALLY bugs my Type B side.
My brain tells me everything needs to fit perfectly into the little boxes in my head, but in reality my brain needs to create a new box if something doesn’t quite fit instead of throwing it away. Or maybe just let it flop halfway out of one of the other boxes. Whatever. You get the point.
Now — let’s get one thing straight. Just because your ideas may not fit perfectly into one scenario, doesn’t necessarily mean you should just toss them in the trash. Ever hear the saying one man’s trash is another man’s treasure?
While perfectionism may be black and white. The concept of what perfection is, is subjective. It varies from person to person. In advertising, what may be perfect for one client may not be perfect for the next or vice versa.
It all depends on the client’s brand, positioning strategy, voice and what their end goal is. You probably wouldn’t push an edgy, avant-garde type of campaign onto a traditionally, family-centric brand like Campbell’s Soup. It’s just not a good fit. On the other hand, it may be a great fit for a company looking to transform themselves or who already has an off-beat or innovative history; like Apple. In other words, no idea is a bad idea. It just may not be right for that particular client.
This industry is all about pushing the envelope. No matter the client, the value of pushing a brand beyond it’s normal range of motion to, at the very least, consider something new is beneficial in positioning that brand. It will ultimately help deflect the competition.
Do not let yourself stand in the way of what you are actually capable of. Just go for it. Playing it safe won’t get you very far in life and it certainly isn’t what gets you far in this industry. Just be sure you know your client and you know what they’re after.
I recently read this fun little blog about overcoming perfectionism and towards the end I read this profoundly cliché phrase that really spoke to me: “Do your best and forget the rest.”