by Melanie Greene

Do I need to be perfect to be confident?

You might be thinking that you can only be truly confident when you are 100 per cent competent, know everything there is to know about your job and are, basically, perfect.

This is the ‘tyranny of perfectionism’. This when people believe that to be successful as a professional, a team member, a manager, a parent and so on, they have to be perfect and get everything right first time. Looking at many successful business people, however, we know that this is not true. If you feel that you suffer from the ‘tyranny of perfectionism’, you might want to use the exercises in this topic to get a more realistic assessment of the activities you do.

Knowledge and perfectionism

It is impossible to know everything, even if your perfectionist streak thinks otherwise. Self confidence means that you are able to say ‘I don’t know, but I can find out for you’ or ‘I don’t know, can you tell me more about that?’ rather than bluffing your way through or beating yourself up because you don’t know everything. When we have the confidence to say we don’t know or to ask questions, then we will learn more. When we lack confidence, we fear being found out or found wanting, which stops us from learning.

Skills, abilities and perfectionism

When we learned to walk, we fell down a lot; when we learned to cycle, we wobbled a lot, so why do we think that at work we can get everything right first time? Find yourself a good coach, a mentor or a good training to help you to develop your skills to the appropriate standards. Practice in safe environments and ask for constructive feedback on what you do well and what can be improved. With constructive feedback, you will get a realistic assessment of your abilities and can feel confident about what you can and can’t do.