ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside July/August 2009

Can You Be Too Perfect?

Striving to be faultless can foster failure—or drive success—depending on the type of perfectionist you are



Serge Krouglikoff Getty Images

David Liu is a technology entrepreneur in San Francisco. He has helped found several start-ups to market products he has developed, including those stylus pens the UPS driver hands you to sign for your packages. But even as he dreams up new inventions, an ongoing patter in his head objects that they are stupidly obvious. And despite his accomplishments, Liu teeters on a mental precipice: “It feels shameful, like, hey, I’m in my early 30s, I should have had a Yahoo by now—or I should at least have had a company I sold for tons of money.”

Liu is a perfectionist, someone who demands utmost excellence from himself, an expectation that can lead to fear of failure and reflexive self-criticism. Even when he is doing well, Liu has trouble feeling good about himself. “It’s so habitual, the beating-myself-up part,” he says.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content


It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com.
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Limited Time Only!

Get 50% off Digital Gifts

Hurry sale ends 12/31 >

X

Email this Article

X