EXCELLENCE VS. PERFECTION (Page 1)
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
"Pursuing excellence may require
tremendous effort and focus as well as other
resources. But, unlike perfectionism, it does not demand a sacrifice of self-esteem as it tends to focus on the process of achievement
rather than the outcome."
Some people may be curious as to why this website is dedicated to the "pursuit of excellence"
when I am constantly warning about the dangers of perfectionism. To address this question we
must differentiate between the pursuit of excellence and the need to be perfect. These concepts
are not only different but can be considered antagonistic to one another. In fact these concepts
are so opposed to one another that excellence can best be attained by giving up the demands of
What is perfectionism?
Perfectionism is the individual's belief that he or she must be perfect to be acceptable.
Perfectionism is black and white with no gray area. Anything other than perfect is failure.
Perfectionism is an attitude, not necessarily a behavior. In other words, two people can
engage in the same behavior such as trying to win an Olympic gold medal but one can be pursuing
excellence and the other is demanding perfection. The difference lies in the thought process
about the goal or behavior, not in the goal or behavior itself.
What is the pursuit of excellence?
The pursuit of excellence is the desire to attain a goal of excellence, to achieve at a high
level, to be the best that one can be but without the demand attached to the goal or desire.
Pursuing excellence may require tremendous effort and focus as well as other resources. But,
unlike perfectionism, it does not demand a sacrifice of self-esteem as it tends to focus on the process of achievement
rather than the outcome.
READ MORE: page 2
Intro--What is perfectionism?--page 1
How does the pursuit of excellence differ from the demand of perfection?--page 2
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