Perfectionism vs Excellence


Do you understand the difference between striving for excellence and striving for perfection? Let’s look at what these two very different concepts mean.

Perfection is striving for something that doesn’t exist. Because it doesn’t exist, it’s unattainable, and you’ll always be left feeling lack and as though you’re not good enough. When you think about it, what do we have that’s actually perfect? We often refer to something like “the perfect day” because we FEEL a certain way, but in and of itself, the actual day was not perfect.

Excellence, on the other hand, does exist. Striving for excellence means striving for YOUR personal best. It is a healthy mentality of wanting to improve that which is in your life that is not working while, at the same time, celebrating what is.

As you know, your body talks some serious wisdom and never lies. Notice how perfection and excellence feel in your body. When you are excelling at something, you feel relaxed, expansive, receptive, and accomplished. When you are striving to be perfect, you feel stress, tightness, constriction, and defeated. (Author: Teri Cole)


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.

Excellence is 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. (Author: Monica Frank, Ph.D.)

Perfection vs. Excellence

Add any more comparisons in the empty boxes below, or use a blank sheet to create your own comparison table.


This entry was posted on Thursday, January 9th, 2014 at 8:07 pm and is filed under Adult living, Articles, Psychology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply