The Illusion of Perfection: How Comparing Yourself to Others Can Undermine Your Career


Many women believe that to get ahead in the world they have to be perfect. We all have role models that we look up to that appear perfect. They dress well, speak well and light up the room when they enter. They look perfect and thus we perceive them as perfect.

The stress of living up to this image of perfection can torpedo our careers into a downward spiral. We are focusing so much on the outside that we often forget about the talent we possess on the inside. It starts to show in our everyday actions.

When you look at that picture perfect model in magazines and on television, what do you see? Do you judge yourself based this flawless image of them?

 What you see is not always what you get. Their pictures have been photo shopped. Any stray hair is put back into place, skin is miraculously clear, wrinkles disappear, and bodies are somehow much thinner than in real life. You never know what is real versus what is digitally enhanced.

Don’t you just love the magazines that publish photos of female movie stars without their makeup? I love these pictures! They show us that when we stop chasing after perfection, we see the “real” version of us, shining our light, without our normal mask of makeup.

I remember my first day as a corporate officer in the Gaming world. I had the opportunity to work with some of the best talents in the business so I looked for a female role model and found one in our Vice President and General Manager. She impressed me with her style.

She had that air of perfection and amazing strength. She wore a tailored pantsuit, carried a designer leather purse and wore expensive high heels. Her attention to detail was impeccable.

On top of all of this, she always seemed to be smiling! I compared myself to her and in my mind, could not understand what was missing. I was successful and respected in my business so why was I not perfect?

So, I updated my wardrobe, got new makeup and took self-development courses to learn the inside track. I had fallen prey to the illusion of perfection and was subconsciously beating myself up inside in my journey to get there.

As I got to know my role model, her authenticity impressed me. She listened intently to both sides of the story before making a decision. She shared with me some of her experiences and I learned that she was not perfect.

It did not take me much time to realize that she was real and accelerated her career by learning her craft. She had made mistakes along the way and was far from perfect. Being unconventional and speaking up worked in her favor. She understood the political climate and how to work with it and not against it. She had become an expert in her field and could “walk the walk and talk the talk.” She was not striving for perfection as she did not need it to be successful. She was happy in her life and had traded perfection for peace. This gave her great joy.

While making personal changes increased my confidence, it did not bring me perfection. My mentor touched my heart by showing me that she was not perfect. She was kind, loving and smart.

She left me with a valuable gift as I stopped chasing perfection and concentrated on being ”me.” The heavy load I was carrying had lifted. My career continued to skyrocket as when I stopped chasing this illusion, I started truly living.

Do you have a role model in your career who has helped you overcome the illusion of perfection? I would love to hear your story. Please feel free to share your comments below or on my LinkedIn page at, or tweet me at

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