Fight Perfectionism and Conquer Delegating

How to Fight Perfectionism and Conquer Delegating

Are you finally ready to fight perfectionism and conquer delegating?  Congratulations and welcome to Perfectionists Anonymous! This is the place to go when you know you struggle with this often debilitating DIS-EASE that prevents you from accomplishing your goals.

Are you feeling surprised to find out you are a perfectionist? Maybe you believed you just had high standards. The truth is, those standards cross over into perfectionism when work is taking far longer than it should. Other projects and tasks aren’t getting completed because of the standards you are setting up.

Unfortunately, and somewhat ironically, your perfectionism is likely holding you back from your true potential.

"Great things in business are never done by one person; they're done by a team of people." – Steve Jobs

As a solopreneur, you can only afford to be a perfectionist to a point before it becomes a barrier to your growth.

When you are starting out in business, you can handle your client load while still having time to market and sell. Then you start to notice marketing and sales drop off as you have more clients to work with. As this happens, new prospects dwindle and existing client opportunities dry up.

You now have to start marketing and selling again in order to refill your pipeline.

This is the wave effect. When you are only one person, you have a finite amount of time. If you don’t choose to fight your perfectionism and conquer delegating, you will be trapped in this wave of business never truly getting ahead.

The easy thing to do would be to tell you to suck it up and let go of your perfectionism. That’s a lot like telling a drug addict to stop using drugs. It’s just not that simple.

What tools can we arm you with to help you fight perfectionism?

Making the Most of Your Mindset

The first step to fight perfectionism will always be in your thinking. While we can’t change your thoughts overnight, we can arm you with some strategies that may help you think a little different about your “high standards”.

Evaluate Your Priorities

Take a look at the following phrases and evaluate what is most important to you.

  • Having full control over every aspect of your business or growing your business to greater heights?
  • Producing an absolutely perfect image or having time for friends and family?
  • Spending hours on a project or task or taking time for your own mental and physical health?

Perfectionism often leads to depression. It creates an environment where the perfectionist can’t sleep, is in a constant state of anxiety and never has time to relax.

Take some time to evaluate if this is what you truly want in your life. While it may not be enough, it can be the start of letting go.

Strive for Excellence, Not Perfection

I used to say, go for “good enough” and then I realized that was never going to be “good enough” for a perfectionist.

There’s a saying that’s been going around for some time. No one knows who first wrote it but there are some truly shining thought shifts that may help you fight perfectionism. I’ve highlighted my favorites.

Perfection is being right.  Excellence is being willing to be wrong.

Perfection is fear.   Excellence is taking a risk.

Perfection is anger and frustration.   Excellence is powerful.

Perfection is control.   Excellence is spontaneous.

Perfection is judgment.  Excellence is accepting.

Perfection is taking.   Excellence is giving.

Perfection is doubt.  Excellence is confidence.

Perfection is pressure.  Excellence is natural.

Perfection is the destination.  Excellence is the journey.

-author unknown

Stop Comparing

One of the things perfectionists are VERY good at is comparing themselves to others. They always manage to find the person that just can’t be beat and use that for their basis of comparison.

  • If that guy can create webinar funnels with 15 emails in a sequence, then I can too.
  • When that chick kicks out well planned, articulate and comprehensive articles, then I will too.
  • If those entrepreneurs have websites with all the glitz and glamour, then I can too.

What our Polly perfectionist often chooses to ignore is the fact that these individuals are not doing it alone. They have large teams and larger budgets. It’s not a fair comparison.

The business world is not like the academic world was. You can’t look at a list of exam scores and see that you did better than anyone else.

Remember, shifting your mindset is no easy task. It won’t happen like flipping a light switch. It takes time. What then, are some things you can do to help fight your perfectionism in the meantime?

Set Realistic Goals

There’s a lot of talk these days of setting a BHAG “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”. For perfectionists, that’s like a dose of their drug of choice! Perfectionists need to scale back and set realistic goals instead. If goals are too ambitious, they’ll never be achieved by a perfectionist.

Let's say your goal is to have a 10 page highly detailed website completed within 2 months. Maybe a more realistic goal is to have a 5 page moderately detailed website launched. You can always schedule some time to improve the results and add to the original after your official launch.

Set Deadlines

Set a drop-dead deadline for when the work will be done. Without deadlines, perfectionists will come up with endless changes and revisions. This is where setting deadlines comes in handy. If you know you need to launch a webinar series, start promoting its release date now. It becomes a lot more challenging to back out when someone else is waiting on you.

Pro Tip: Having an assistant can also help with deadlines. Your assistant can help keep you on track and accountable.

Focus on the Good

Perfectionists spend a lot of time thinking about what’s wrong with their work. Spend more time focused on what is good about your work. And don’t say “NOTHING!”

Get some help in this area by getting someone else to review your stuff. They can go through it with a fresh, non-perfectionist, set of eyes. They can help you truly evaluate what is excellent (there’s that word again) and what needs improvement.

Conquering Delegation

Once you’ve begun to fight your battle with perfectionism, it’s time to conquer delegating. How does someone fight procrastination and conquer delegation without getting thrown right back into their addiction?

Start With Small Stuff

You have to start somewhere. Start with one or two small projects. While most Virtual Assistants and VA providers require minimum packages, there are some, like Virtual A Team that have no minimums. This makes it perfect for getting your feet wet and learning how to trust your team.

Some ideas for small projects include:

  • Entering business card data
  • Doing topic research
  • Filtering (but not deleting) emails
  • Organizing file storage
  • Data entry (business cards or contact lists)

Once you have some evidence that your new assistant can be trusted, you can slowly begin to add more projects and tasks.

Be Willing to Train

In his book, Procrastinate on Purpose, Rory Vaden talks about the 30x rule. He suggests that we spend 30 times the amount of time it takes us to complete a task to train someone else to do that same task.

For example, if a task typically takes you 5 minutes to complete, you should plan on spending 150 minutes training someone else to do that task.

This may seem like an exceedingly LARGE amount of time and not that great of a time saver. I mean, you are trying to delegate to have LESS to do, not MORE.

Let’s say the task takes you 5 minutes a day, every working day. And let’s say you work, on average, 250 days a year. Your investment of 150 minutes will free up 1100 minutes of your time over the course of the year.

It is worth it, in the end, to make the upfront investment to properly train your team. When doing so, it reduces the frustration of unacceptable work.


There’s nothing more powerful than communicating with your team. I’ve been in this business now for a few years and have seen it happen many times when miscommunications resulted in mistakes, errors or just unacceptable quality.

And, unless you are an excellent wordsmith, email just doesn’t deliver communication as well as a conversation.

Embrace phone calls, Zoom or Skype check-ins or even services like WhatsApp to send voice messages.

Be willing to clarify and explain things in different ways if necessary. Be willing to understand the other individual’s learning and communication style.

When you can improve communication, you can conquer delegation challenges.

Failure Isn’t Final

When you delegate, there will be times when things don’t go well. Whether it’s a miscommunication or technology break down, things come up and tasks or projects will not be done as expected.

Accepting this as a normal part of the delegation process can help to alleviate the anxiety related to these experiences.

I once had one of my clients struggling to connect with her assigned Director of Stuff You Don’t Have Time to Do (yes, that’s their title but I usually just call them Directors). I was finally able to connect with this Director and it wasn’t good. She truly sounded very drunk. I have no concrete proof of this fact but had to let her go when this happened more than once.

My clients were more than understanding when I was fully transparent about the situation and made every effort to step in and fix whatever needed to be fixed.

Pro Tip: One of the benefits of Virtual A Team is having that back up in place when someone goes on vacation or gets, um, sick…

Embrace the idea that failures will occur. As long as they do not become a habit and you have done your due diligence to properly train the individual, it doesn’t have to be the end of an effective relationship.

Create Your Must-haves

Have you ever watched an episode of House Hunters on HGTV? I love that show. At the beginning of each episode, the couple goes through a list of their must-haves.

  • Open concept
  • Garage
  • Big yard
  • 4 bedrooms
  • 3 bathrooms
  • Close to downtown
  • Not too noisy

As they begin their search, we start to discover what their TRUE must-haves are vs. what was just a “nice-to-have”.

When delegating work to your team, consider what your must-haves are as well.

  • Attention to detail
  • Big picture thinker
  • Highly creative
  • Great technical skills

Sometimes your expectations will compete with one another.

I had a client who was very particular about wanting a Director located in the same time zone as she was. I did happen to have a Director in her time zone but the Director didn’t meet some of the other qualifications the client needed. I would not have suggested this Director to this client in most cases. The time zone factor was a convenience, a nice-to-have, but the client listed it as a must-have and it ended up trumping other criteria that I felt was more important.

While we are working through some of the resulting challenges, it hasn’t been as smooth as most of my client experiences.

Establish Standards

When communicating with your team, it’s important to have a clear set of standards for them to follow. These standards should include:

  • Values and beliefs,
  • tone of voice,
  • details like how communication occurs,
  • what is considered Excellent (yep, that word again) work,
  • brand standards including brand identity and client persona

Have these standards in writing so they can be shared with your team.

Work to keep these standards updated. Share them periodically. This will help to make sure everyone is on the same page.

"Your most important task as a leader is to teach people how to think and ask the right questions so that the world doesn’t go to hell if you take a day off." - Jeffrey Pfeffer

In summary, to truly fight perfectionism and conquer delegating:

  1. Improve mindset and beliefs by:
    • evaluate priorities,
    • strive for excellence, not perfection,
    • stop comparing.
  2. Take strategic actions to:
    • set realistic goals,
    • set deadlines,
    • focus on the good.
  3. Start delegating by:
    • starting small,
    • being willing to train,
    • Working to improve communication,
    • remembering failure isn’t final,
    • creating your must-haves,
    • establishing written standards.

You deserve to delegate some of the work you do so that you can shine brighter, grow bigger and have more free time. Are you ready to get started?