Of course, it is perfectly natural to want to be perfect, and I would say it’s a great trait to have in the workplace.  Individuals who constantly want to improve want to do a great job and we all like working with people who want to do that.  When we were young we were happy to make mistakes, we learnt from the process and never really thought much about it.  How many of us got up and started walking straight away!

However, you need to be aware that this trait can be a problem too, particularly if you are constantly to over critical on yourself and your performance.  We build up these self-critical habits when we are young or have been conditioned by people in authority to think like that

The reality is that it doesn’t have to be perfect.  We see lots of people on our courses who get frustrated when on the course they are not perfect.  Sometimes I have to say "That's the reason why you are on the course, to learn!"

Of course, I also know what it is like; it took me a long time to get to grips with this myself.  I used to be my own worst nightmare, and I remember many courses when I was younger when I use to be over self-critical, sometimes getting very angry with myself.  What happened then is that I let this feeling manifest.   It became a reality and caused me having greater problems.  I become a product of my thoughts and feelings of not being perfect; I failed courses because of this.

I learnt to keep a journal and now every day I write two lines:

 1) What I did well

 2) What I could do better

I then note down areas of strength and improvement and limit three areas on each.

Using this process is great to improve how you deal with certain situations.  For example, you are a manager and had to deal with a difficult member of staff.

This is a great way of indicating what you did well and how you can improve.  I do it on a daily basis now in all areas of my life.  Remember, you don’t have to be perfect first time, making mistakes is a brilliant learning opportunity and the more mistakes we make, the better we get.  The reality is that we are all perfect anyway, we just haven’t learnt that yet!

Ralph Moody is the founder of Target Training and specialises in trainer and management development.  You can read more about him here.