The Trap of Perfection and Overachievement
By The College Advisor
It is great to do well, but if expectations get too high it can cause high stress and health problems. Not living up to one's own expectations can result in depression or giving up. Excess pressure from parents to perform to their expectations can cause mental anguish. Any type can fall into the trap of perfectionism and over-achievement, but some types are more likely to do so than others.
The Guardians - The most likely to be a natural perfectionist is the Inspector
with the Protector running a close second. The Inspector naturally seeks out imperfection
of fact and can usually handle this well unless they become overloaded. The Protector
treats their home like their castle and wants everything running smoothly. Says Jerome,
an Inspector, "I always look for imperfections when I write or when I work with numbers.
It just comes naturally. But if I'm rushed and go without sleep, the errors start
creeping in. If I find my own errors, it is okay, but if someone else finds them,
I feel terribly embarrassed. I've learned not to overload myself so I can live up to my
The Artisans - The least likely group as a whole to fall prey to perfectionism
are the Artisans, but they can be guilty of over-achievement. This group as a whole
loves the excitement of competition. As long as it is treated like a game or an adventure,
they do well. But if the competition becomes life or death to them, they may act
irrationally or strike out. Usually the type that handles the stress the best is
the Crafter. Says Keith, a Crafter, "I generally keep my cool. If things get out of
hand, I move away from the conflict until I get myself under control. When I take a
test, it's best if I stop and stare at a wall if I start to heat up. It's great when
the brain and body are in high gear and the emotions are calm."
The Idealists - This group seeks to turn their cherished values and visions
into reality. The most sensitive of the lot is the Healer, since they tend to absorb
the emotions and thoughts of others. As long as they don't self-attack with negative
thoughts and self-criticism, they will be more balanced in their drive for self-expression.
Says Bob, a Healer, "I had such ideals when I started my freshman term and I worked hard
at first. Then I found I couldn't keep it up and could hear the voices of my friends and
family calling me stupid and lazy. I flunked two classes. My buddy told me that I needed
to ease up on myself, take a lighter load, and not be so exacting in the beginning.
The next term was better, and the third term was even better. I've learned not to be
such a perfectionist."
The Rationals - This group keeps setting the bar higher and higher in their
thirst for knowledge and competence. They use will power to keep themselves going. Both
the Mastermind and the Architect can be harder on themselves than the Fieldmarshal and the
Inventor. The Mastermind is self-damaging with negative logic loops and the Architect is
damaged if emotions run high. To counter this tendency, they need to find time to play.
Says Tara, a Mastermind, "When I get fascinated with something I just can't seem to put it
down. Working on some of my ideas does seem like play, but I've found that giving my brain
some time away from the intensity every so often does renew me. People call me a nerd
and they are right."
A drive for perfection and achievement can be a marvelous gift as long as the way it
is expressed is in alignment with the personality type, but not done to excess.