Wise words ... and, in Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot, arguably one of the best ever closing lines to a Hollywood film. For most of us, it's a viewpoint we can take to heart. But, for an unfortunate few for whom the best is never good enough, there is another, unhappier side to a perfectionist personality in which self-criticism, procrastination and strong feelings of frustration and despair prevail - for some to such an extent that it can even lead to stress, anxiety and depression.
So what is perfectionism? After all, it's not that unusual for people to think of themselves as being perfectionists - sometimes flippantly and at other times with pride. And, for those of us who don't feel this way about ourselves, we may view and even envy those seemingly special ones whose exacting standards and self control appear to be so admirable. No one is immune from perfectionism, however, and recognising the tendency and knowing how to channel it positively can be the difference between achieving a goal you've been working towards and spiralling into stasis and gloom.
For many perfectionists, it is fear of failure that is the strongest demotivator. It can affect every aspect of their personal and professional lives - from not getting involved in a new relationship to not applying for a job they really want. As the outcome of such initiatives cannot be controlled, the motivation not to take the risk is stronger than the reward of possible success. So they procrastinate, planning the perfect outcome but, convincing themselves this is unattainable, inertia takes over and they struggle to get started. And, even if they should be able to overcome this and successfully complete the task, they will rarely sit back and reflect on or be satisfied by what they've achieved.
Setting goals and meeting them are an important part of life and help us reach new levels of personal and professional satisfaction. However, unfettered perfectionism can lead to harmful obsession. To avoid this from happening, it's important to try to keep a sense of perspective. And to help to achieve this, it's important to try to remember that many of the positives that make us us are intangible - whether it's putting others at their ease or being a good listener or friend. 'Little' things such as these as these really can and do mean a lot to help to keep us grounded and bolster our self esteem.
It's also important to remember is that, if one part of your life isn't going to plan, it doesn't mean the rest is a failure. We all have our ups and our downs so try to keep a sense of perspective and not become distracted by or jealous of the seeming success of others. What's more, the mistakes and set-backs we all encounter can work to our advantage, providing powerful learnings we can build on for future success. Of course, that's not to discourage people from striving for greatness as, for some, the seemingly impossible really does become possible. But I urge anyone who reads this to remember the positives in their lives and take comfort from their successes - and not beat themselves up over their shortcomings. After all, even Mary Poppins was only practically perfect.