Perfectionism in Business: Blessing or Curse?

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”  – Vince Lombardi.

Do we fret so much about making mistakes that we hamper our own job performance? And, if you are an employer, do you allow your employees to make non-fatal mistakes as part of their growth?


At the summit of organizations, at the top of each level of leadership and at the front of every sales pack, you’ll find a handful of these folks. Nothing is ever good enough. They are Type A, go-go-go, and even when they’re off, they are working, plotting their next move and strategizing on how to conquer the world. They are perfectionists.

Their work is seemingly immaculate and work ethic unparalleled. But the reality is that there is no such thing as perfection: we all know this, and our knowledge of said fact has a variety of impacts on us depending on our personality.

For the most confident among us, we believe beyond our goals. Because nothing is ever good enough, even the accolades and praise and awards and bonuses leave us feeling unfulfilled. We believe we will reach a plateau where each of the aforementioned results equate to happiness but that day never comes.

Others of us approach work not needing or desiring to stand out for the fact that those who do have expectations that always soar one step ahead of them. Some of us merely want to blend in, stay ahead of the bills and it’s acceptable to get the occasional pat on the back.

There are other subtle levels of will, skill and thrills, however, at each stage there are decisions we are forced to make about risk and the levels thereof we are willing to take. Some of us have the devil may care approach; we throw ourselves mercilessly forward, haphazardly taking the flying cannonball leap into the deep end of the pool with little – if any – regard to repercussion. Others are so cautious and meticulous that they fear any misstep or misunderstanding that could wind up being construed as an out of compliance mishap – and this mindset prevents them from ever reaching their potential.

Like so many things, balance is the key. True perfection is completely impossible, yet if you set stretch goals and treat budgets like they are literally a minimum expectation, if you go out expecting the best and your potential and you coach to that in others rather than just getting by, and if you conduct yourself and others managing to process instead of results, you’re likelihood of reaching the “perfection” increases exponentially. Even when you fall a little short, you’re still better than expected, than usual, and than goal.

Preoccupation with the prospect of making mistakes makes us second guess ourselves – it makes us second guess process! When we deviate from process, the results suffer and our decision-making process can become even more foolish and misguided in the murk. We become our own worst enemy.

Let’s go a step farther: as supervisors, if we are overbearing in our methods and demanding of results and results alone we will be the culprits in causing this shoddy behavior. We do ourselves and our teams no service if we divert them from following the right processes. Rather than harp about a number, examine their credence to the various components of the business that will yield success. Are they following the right steps? Are they diversifying the portfolio of their pipelines? Are they managing the mechanics of their role? They have earned the role they are in and we must allow them to perform it in the manner with which they see fit provided it is not a detriment to the business and they are not overtly abusing their freedom to do so. Give them time to employ their process; offer feedback and suggestions and coaching and advice, and examine their execution, but never make them so terrified to do everything a certain way – or your way – that they falter completely. You have them on your team for a reason – let them utilize their unique talents in combination with your tutelage and see where it goes.

Excellence is defined in many ways, is achieved in many more, and everything comes down to odds and probabilities and chance; when you apply as near-perfect a process as possible with a near-perfect will to win, your probability of excellence is at its greatest height.


Carson V. Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership.  You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.  You will also be directly contributing to his third book, “A Salesman Forever.”

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page:

Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” that has a unique spin that shows you proven sales principles designed to birth in you the top producer you were born to be.

If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to

About cvheady007

I am a Christian, Husband, Dad, workaholic and author. Biography Carson Vincent Heady was born in Cape Girardeau, MO, graduated from Southeast Missouri State University and moved to St. Louis in 2001. He has served in sales and leadership across Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Carson is best-selling author of the Birth of a Salesman series, the first book of which was published by World Audience Inc. in 2010. He released The Salesman Against the World in 2014, A Salesman Forever in 2016 and Salesman on Fire in 2020. He is also featured in Scott Ingram’s B2B Sales Mentors: 20 Stories from 20 Top 1% Sales Professionals. Carson is a 7-time CEO/President’s Club winner across 5 roles at AT&T and Microsoft and National Verizon Rockstar winner. He has been recognized as a top social seller at Microsoft and is consistently ranked in the top 25 sales gurus in the world on Rise Global. He is included among the Top 50 sales authors on LinkedIn. With over 330K social followers, Carson has also been interviewed on over 30 sales and leadership podcasts, by such luminaries as Jeffrey & Jennifer Gitomer, Jeb Blount, Brandon Bornancin, Sam Dunning, Larry Levine, Darrell Amy, Scott Ingram, Thierry van Herwijnen, Jim Brown, Sam Jacobs, Luigi Prestinenzi, Donald Kelly, Marylou Tyler, George Leith, Pat Helmer, Eric Nelson, Ron Tunick, Jeff Arthur, Mary Ann Samedi, Jean Oursler, Andre Harrell, Marlene Chism, Bill Crespo, Matt Tanguay, Josh Wheeler and Chad Bostick. He has also co-hosted the Smart Biz Show on EG Marketing Radio. His articles have appeared in several noteworthy publications such as SalesGravy, Smash! Sales, Salesopedia and the Baylor Sports Department S3 Report. Carson lives in St. Louis, MO, with his wife Amy and daughters Madison, Sidonia and Charlotte.
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