Perfectionism? Or Fear!

Perfectionism or Fear. . .

Perfectionism is one of the main reasons many women in business fail to achieve the level of success they desire. In fact, many will fail to launch their business because it has to be ‘perfect’ before they do.

I have a theory about perfectionism that, although untested, has proved correct more times than not. When pressing a client who complains of procrastination; I learn the underlying reason for putting off what she says is her most ardent desire is nothing more than FEAR!

Fear of the unknown. Fear that her assumptions are correct. Fear that what she wants to accomplish is not yet “perfect”. . . and not yet perfect means it won’t succeed until it is. But of course, it won’t succeed if perfectionism-driven -procrastination is permitted to rule the day; months – even years!

The ‘Fear Factor”. . .

The human condition is fraught with fear. In fact, it is the main emotion that resides beneath anger; depression and many other negative emotions.

In 1988, I was seriously injured in an auto accident in which the other driver hydroplaned through an intersection and hit my car 12 inches from the driver side door. That was 30 years ago last month and still today I tense up when I see an auto approach the intersection as if he/she isn’t going to stop. All too often I yell obscenities, shake my fist and lay on the horn for all it’s worth!

The last time it happened, I took stock of how I felt when I saw the car approach. The emotion I experienced was not anger, but – you guessed it – FEAR! Fear that prompted my angry outburst and subsequent rapid heart rate, etc. It occurred to me that what my mind was saying was “how dare you behave in such a manner as to cause me to be afraid.”

Fear is not always so extreme. In fact, it usually sits so quietly that we barely recognize it. We call it everything but what it really is. . . planning, assessing, observing, We may even tell ourselves and others that we are praying and waiting for PAPA GOD to answer. In which case, we might be somewhat honest and admit we are procrastinating by waiting on direction from the Lord!

Blaming God for not moving ahead is a favorite tactic of spiritually pious folks, and few there are who will dispute such an honorable ‘excuse’!

A Dream Afar Off. . .

In the early days of my spiritual journey while learning from the Lord and a wise spiritual director; I was taught that when a promise given us by the Spirit of God is afar off; it’s easy to have faith the size of an oak tree. After all, the vision’s reality is way off in the distance. Plenty of time to get nervous about its fulfillment later.

Time passes, we do what we believe is required of us to bring the promise, vision, desire to pass. Our faith doesn’t waver because there is much to do.

Suddenly we come face to face with God’s timetable. The dream is upon us. Reality is just around the corner and we know it’s there. Knots rise in our belly’s and doubt begins to creep in. Suddenly faith the size of an oak tree is barely the size of the mustard seed.

In my experience, there is an inverse correlation between where the dream is at any given time and the size and intensity of our faith! Example from my own life; PAPA GOD revealed to me that my youngest daughter would be prom queen her senior year. When she asked me about putting her name up as a candidate; I told her if she did, she would win. Easy enough to say at the time.

But as the hours counted down to the event, I was a basket case. What if it wasn’t God who said that? What if it was just me blowin’ off steam? How would she feel when she didn’t win? And how would not winning impact her fragile young faith? Every question in the book versus a quiet faith that what He said would come to pass, would come to pass.

I’m thrilled to say that it did come to pass. And the lesson I learned was one of value that has kept me through the years.

The lesson learned? That when a word of promise comes to us from the Spirit, timing is everything. For when the dream is afar off; our faith is strong. But in terms of our humanity; as the dream nears fruition, fear and doubt strive to overtake our faith that what He said would be – will be!

What’s That Have to Do With Perfectionism?

I went a bit off topic; but it’s important to come to a general understanding of the nature of fear before moving on to how it masquerades as something noble like “perfectionism”!

Most days I pass an example of fear that may be masquerading as perfectionism. A father and son bought an old house that was once a dentist office. The young man is a chef and plans to open a unique high-end restaurant. Never mind whether the local community can sustain a very pricey restaurant – either financially or culturally. The point is that father and son bought the place about 2 years ago and have been renovating it ever since. Beautiful landscaping is in and has been for a year.  Finally a step ladder that had been in one room for weeks was no longer there today.

Folks in the community wonder when it will open. My thought is that the young man is afraid to open. After all, his desire for an high-end restaurant in a somewhat downscale community may not work. And in the interim, other moderately priced places have opened or are getting ready to open. The competition increases while the young man feeds his perfectionism and delays, delays, delays!

How do I know he’s feeding perfectionism? He told someone and they reported it on Facebook in answer to a question about why he is not yet open!

Tough Topic in A Real World!

Fear as an obstacle to success is a tough topic. The reality is that many a female entrepreneur has been tripped up by fear because she fails to recognize it for what it is. It’s so clever at masquerading behind many noble reasons for putting off the inevitable. The inevitable reality of our hopes, dreams and visions coming to pass.

Perfectionism is just one of the labels FEAR wears as it barricades the path to the success we desire!  Next week, some practical tips for avoiding the perfectionism trap!



Linda S. Fitzgerald, M.S.Ed, CEO & Visionary Partner
A Women’s Place Network, Inc. dba
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[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]I’m Visionary Partner for Affiliated Women International (AWI) and have a fiery passion to see women become all they are designed to be – personally, professionally and spiritually. The AWI mission is to connect women in business, especially Christian women, worldwide via our private ‘The Neighborhood’ network community. We inspire, educate, motivate and inform our members for success and encourage them to help each other succeed in life and business![/author_info] [/author]



Linda S. Fitzgerald

I have a fiery passion to see women become all they are designed to be - personally and professionally. I write, teach, mentor and coach with that passion in mind. As an author and prolific blogger, I reach out to women in all walks of life, especially women of faith to empower and equip them for greatness.