Episode 28 – Managing Perfectionism

Welcome to episode 28 of BrainTree Podcast!

[00:47]  Prue and Rocky introduce the topic “Managing Perfectionism” and their new learning resource “Be a Better Learner”.  Prue says that out of the 20 resources that she had written, it’s the best by far.

From Michael Lore, author:

“At its route, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making mistakes, fear of disappointing others, fear of failure, fear of success.”

[02:47] Prue says she has a tendency to be a perfectionist but sometimes it can be a good thing because it means that you are meticulous, you follow up the details, you do things to a really high quality. But it becomes a problem when you’ve got so much pressure in yourself to do things perfectly that your life loses balance.

[04:07] Rocky thinks that if we keep waiting until it’s “perfect”, we’re not really producing much. Prue explains the difference between someone who’s a “perfectionist” and someone who’s “just doing things well”:

  • Perfectionist: Their fear of failure is almost greater or stronger than their actual desire to achieve. Sometimes they’re paralyzed because they don’t want to do it unless it can be perfect.
  • Just doing things well: They get things done and maybe in a prefect way.

[05:14]  Rocky shared a story wherein he had a student who was a very brilliant student, a gifted writer. The student submitted an assessment paper with one page that really impressed Rocky, but he was surprised that when he turned to the next page, it was blank.  The student said, “I’d rather not complete it than fail.”

[06:43]  Prue explains that it’s this rationalization that they have in their mind that, “If I don’t attempt it and I fail, it’s not really my fault because I didn’t attempt it.  But if I attempt it and I fail, that’s then a personal reflection on me.”  That becomes incredibly paralyzing if you have to be perfect all the time and if your work has to be the absolute highest quality all the time, you just don’t move forward.

Perfectionism copy

[15:10]  Prue shares tips for making students less of a perfectionist:

  • Parents and teachers have to admit to making mistakes themselves so that the students can see that everybody makes mistakes.
  • Help students to actually plan their workout and identify realistic time frames.
  • The Parents should avoid comparisons particularly with other siblings or other children.

[19:45]  Prue also says that teachers can start to help students change the way they think.  Get them to question and help them understand that they can’t absolutely do everything.  Also, teaching students techniques to positive self-talk.  Rocky & Prue reference to three helpful past episodes related to this topic:

[22:25]  Rocky says, breaking the task in small bits takes the pressure off, rather than suffering and ruminating and procrastinating over it and then eventually not turning the work in.

[25:08]  Teachers and parents need to have some empathy for what they’re going through and to understand that they don’t want to be like that, it’s crippling.  They need a lot of guidance as to what is truly important and where do they need to spend their time.

[29:11]  Rocky and Prue both agree that this has a lot to do with really just getting some movement, doing something, getting momentum. Do one little bit at a time. It’s all in your head.  You just have to say, “I’m just going to start. I’m just going to do it.” Because if you don’t do anything, you just can’t move forward.

Updates and News

To know more about Prue and what she has to offer, visit www.enhanced-learning.net where you’ll find a section for teachers and for schools, and a section for parents and students.

There are also workbooks there for study skills, time management, goal setting workbooks and exam prep workbook.

Prue has also just released a new series of help guides: Helpings Students Become Effective Learner program. It’s for parents who’ve got a student just starting secondary school this year.

You can subscribe and listen to BrainTree podcast via iTunes.

Leave us a comment below and let us know what do you think about this week’s topic? Also, if you have any tips about “Managing Perfectionism” you can share it with our listeners!


For parents – perfectionism blog

For teachers – perfectionism blog

For parents – study skills workbooks

For teachers – study skills workbooks

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