Review: Perfectionism … “Never Good Enough”

Great Potential Press has just released a new book by Lisa Van Gemert entitled, Perfectionism A Practical Guide to Managing “Never Good Enough”. And, well … it’s as close to perfect as any book I’ve read about perfectionism. It clearly and concisely explains what perfectionism is and isn’t; then offers strategies to manage it.

To be honest, I have known Lisa Van Gemert for many years having first met through our mutual work with the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented. I have heard her speak numerous times and never left without learning something new … and enjoying myself. You see … I’ve always considered Lisa a perfectionist and wasn’t surprised when I heard she was writing a book on the subject. Those speaking engagements … she sequesters herself for hours and practices every single word. She makes sure the timing and delivery maximize the impact of her words.

Image result for Lisa Van Gemert

That same level of dedication to detail shines in this new book. I thought I understood what perfectionism was all about and the real consequences it can have in the life of a gifted person. I have read countless articles, books, and conducted several Twitter chats on the subject. Lisa, however, offers new insights into how it affects your life and positive changes you can make to reduce its influence. You see … she writes from experience and that makes for great writing.

First and foremost, we learn that perfectionism is unattainable. From the book: 

“Perfectionism is characterized as setting impossibly high standards and striving for flawlessness, combined with excessive self-criticism, an unhealthy concern for others’ opinions of one’s work, and overgeneralization of failure despite adverse consequences.”

Lisa believes that perfectionism is displayed on a continuum; not an ‘all or nothing’ proposition. It follows you through life. As such, it manifests in a number of ways that I had not thought of before reading this book. Perfectionists can be academic overachievers, aggravated accuracy assessors, risk evaders, controlling image managers, and procrastinating perfectionists. It is, in fact, simply another facet of personality and this is the good news.

Perfectionism can be managed and Lisa takes us through the process step by step. Each chapter concludes with Key Ideas and Action Steps. It does not have to control one’s life. Whether you’re a parent or teacher of a young perfectionist, or a perfectionist yourself; you will learn ways to harness it to improve your life.

I don’t make the claim lightly. I believe this book makes an important contribution to our understanding of an often misunderstood subject. It’s not preachy. It’s not a ‘how to’ book in the traditional sense. It’s more of a ‘we can make this work’ kind of book (and this is from someone who only writes in pencil). Lisa Van Gemert offers invaluable new insights into perfectionism as a tendency and not a label which enables smart strategies for those debilitated by its multi-faceted nature and real-life consequences. You can check out the book here.

Disclaimer: Great Potential Press provided a review copy of the manuscript.