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Delusions Of A Perfectionist

Author : Dilip Saraf

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I have many clients"thankfully not too many"who are driven by the concept of perfection. They come to me asking how they should structure their work, surroundings, and even their boss' attitude so that they can achieve perfection in all their assignments. This applies to all their endeavors: writing code, designing products, and even writing a short email.

I am always bemused by this notion of perfection. My belief is that we as humans are incapable of perfection. Besides, the notion is boring and also paralyzing at the same time. The reason for this is that once one achieves perfection there is nothing to shoot for; it is paralyzing at once because of its impossibility. Human endeavor is about its struggle to constantly beat oneself at their own game and not to ever achieve the ultimate.

To these clients my advice is the same and I am writing this short blog, especially for all those who are shortchanging themselves by pursuing this concept of perfection in their pursuits:

  1. Perfection in human endeavor does not exist; we can come close, but not ever do something perfect in every way. Perfection in nature can exist, but look Who created it!
  2. A less paralyzing undertaking is to shoot for excellence, instead. What excellence means is that you are going to do the best that you can within the constraints given to you. What this also means is that you can always do better the next time you attempt to do the same or similar undertaking.
  3. If you shoot for perfection in any initiatory endeavor then it is unlikely that you'd ever finish it. This also means that you will never take any risk to make that endeavor fruitful; repeating what has been done before does not and cannot create anything new or exciting.
  4. If you are obsessed with perfection try an alternative: Develop a set of requirements for what needs to be done and do all within your power to meet those requirements. Consider that perfection is only in your mind and move on to improve upon that achievement.
  5. Always challenge yourself to do better the next time than you did before. This is empowering because your pursuing excellence with this approach.

No matter how much you want perfection try an alternative mindset using the prescription above. It will empower you to pursue things in a way that you have not before, and help you achieve surprising outcomes. So, go ahead surprise yourself!

Good luck!



About Author
Dilip has distinguished himself as LinkedIn’s #1 career coach from among a global pool of over 1,000 peers ever since LinkedIn started ranking them professionally (LinkedIn selected 23 categories of professionals for this ranking and published this ranking from 2006 until 2012). Having worked with over 6,000 clients from all walks of professions and having worked with nearly the entire spectrum of age groups—from high-school graduates about to enter college to those in their 70s, not knowing what to do with their retirement—Dilip has developed a unique approach to bringing meaning to their professional and personal lives. Dilip’s professional success lies in his ability to codify what he has learned in his own varied life (he has changed careers four times and is currently in his fifth) and from those of his clients, and to apply the essence of that learning to each coaching situation.

After getting his B.Tech. (Honors) from IIT-Bombay and Master’s in electrical engineering(MSEE) from Stanford University, Dilip worked at various organizations, starting as an individual contributor and then progressing to head an engineering organization of a division of a high-tech company, with $2B in sales, in California’s Silicon Valley. His current interest in coaching resulted from his career experiences spanning nearly four decades, at four very diverse organizations–and industries, including a major conglomerate in India, and from what it takes to re-invent oneself time and again, especially after a lay-off and with constraints that are beyond your control.

During the 45-plus years since his graduation, Dilip has reinvented himself time and again to explore new career horizons. When he left the corporate world, as head of engineering of a technology company, he started his own technology consulting business, helping high-tech and biotech companies streamline their product development processes. Dilip’s third career was working as a marketing consultant helping Fortune-500 companies dramatically improve their sales, based on a novel concept. It is during this work that Dilip realized that the greatest challenge most corporations face is available leadership resources and effectiveness; too many followers looking up to rudderless leadership.

Dilip then decided to work with corporations helping them understand the leadership process and how to increase leadership effectiveness at every level. Soon afterwards, when the job-market tanked in Silicon Valley in 2001, Dilip changed his career track yet again and decided to work initially with many high-tech refugees, who wanted expert guidance in their reinvention and reemployment. Quickly, Dilip expanded his practice to help professionals from all walks of life.

Now in his fifth career, Dilip works with professionals in the Silicon Valley and around the world helping with reinvention to get their dream jobs or vocations. As a career counselor and life coach, Dilip’s focus has been career transitions for professionals at all levels and engaging them in a purposeful pursuit. Working with them, he has developed many groundbreaking approaches to career transition that are now published in five books, his weekly blogs, and hundreds of articles. He has worked with those looking for a change in their careers–re-invention–and jobs at levels ranging from CEOs to hospital orderlies. He has developed numerous seminars and workshops to complement his individual coaching for helping others with making career and life transitions.

Dilip’s central theme in his practice is to help clients discover their latent genius and then build a value proposition around it to articulate a strong verbal brand.

Throughout this journey, Dilip has come up with many groundbreaking practices such as an Inductive Résumé and the Genius Extraction Tool. Dilip owns two patents, has two publications in the Harvard Business Review and has led a CEO roundtable for Chief Executive on Customer Loyalty. Both Amazon and B&N list numerous reviews on his five books. Dilip is also listed in Who’s Who, has appeared several times on CNN Headline News/Comcast Local Edition, as well as in the San Francisco Chronicle in its career columns. Dilip is a contributing writer to several publications. Dilip is a sought-after speaker at public and private forums on jobs, careers, leadership challenges, and how to be an effective leader.



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