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#2231726 - 02/14/14 10:00 PM Perfectionism: healthy vs. neurotic (Graham Fitch)
Sand Tiger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 990
Loc: Southern California
Another insightful column from Graham Fitch, here's a quote:

Healthy perfectionism drives us ever onwards and upwards, and is vital for stellar progress and excellence. ... Neurotic perfectionism cripples us because we forget we are human beings and not machines ...

As always, I have no commercial ties or affiliation. I am sharing what is timely topic on the forum, as the curtain goes up for the many perfectionists that participate in the ABF quarterly recital. Obviously, not all participants are perfectionists, but I'd guess that half are candidates for the label.

Read the entire article at:
http://practisingthepiano.com/myth-perfection/

As I have gotten older and hopefully wiser, I feel like I am getting better at dropping the obsessive, compulsive, neurotic forms of perfectionism. I credit a great deal of that to my years of volunteering in mental health. One phrase that is helpful "endorse for the effort, not the outcome." If I make a good effort, then I can learn to live with the result.
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#2231925 - 02/15/14 08:09 AM Re: Perfectionism: healthy vs. neurotic (Graham Fitch) [Re: Sand Tiger]
JimF Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/09
Posts: 1673
Loc: south florida
That was a really good article, Sandtiger. Thanks for posting.

I need to keep this handy for my next neurotic episode.
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#2232083 - 02/15/14 02:01 PM Re: Perfectionism: healthy vs. neurotic (Graham Fitch) [Re: Sand Tiger]
Sand Tiger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 990
Loc: Southern California
Perfectionists often have the hardest time composing music or writing songs. The inner critic can be a dictator. I know one would-be prose writer that hated everything she wrote, so much so that it wasn't saved, any paper copies were shredded. How can anyone advance if their neurosis is like that?

I was reviewing some comments on the Coursera that I am taking on songwriting. One is along the lines of: "give yourself permission to write crap." Kenny Werner, in his book, Effortless Mastery, talks about the concept of "no wrong notes," when improvising.

Like I said in my opening, effort counts for a lot. Almost everyone accepts that when it comes to learning to play piano, but more than a few want to be able to write at high level without putting in much time or effort. Endorse for the effort, that and process are what a person controls, not the outcome, not the level of aptitude.


Edited by Sand Tiger (02/15/14 02:04 PM)
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#2232168 - 02/15/14 05:04 PM Re: Perfectionism: healthy vs. neurotic (Graham Fitch) [Re: Sand Tiger]
Stubbie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 371
Loc: Midwest USA
Fortunately for the human race, babies are not perfectionists. They stand up, fall on their rears, stand up, take a few tottering steps, fall down again, then try again. And again.

Next thing you know, you're talking them down from the top of the bookcase.

One of my brothers is a perfectionist and it just sucks the joy out of most things. I am not a perfectionist, at the piano or in my daily life. I might aim for really, really good, but I will settle for pretty good. smile
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#2232531 - 02/16/14 11:09 AM Re: Perfectionism: healthy vs. neurotic (Graham Fitch) [Re: Stubbie]
Sand Tiger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 990
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: Stubbie
Fortunately for the human race, babies are not perfectionists. They stand up, fall on their rears, stand up, take a few tottering steps, fall down again, then try again. And again.

Next thing you know, you're talking them down from the top of the bookcase.

One of my brothers is a perfectionist and it just sucks the joy out of most things. I am not a perfectionist, at the piano or in my daily life. I might aim for really, really good, but I will settle for pretty good. smile



Thanks for the reply Stubbie. I do think part of it is nature, because some babies are more fussy than others, some more easy going, some more likely to cry, some more likely to sleep through the night. I tend to believe that this gets reinforced by experiences (nurture).

I never thought of myself as a perfectionist until well into my adult life and someone tossed the word at me. It took me a while to understand why the adjective fit me. In the end, it isn't all a bad thing. However, like so many things for me, finding a balance is what tends to work.

While neurotic perfectionists may sometimes get more done. They almost certainly enjoy their achievements less. For the vast majority on the beginners forum, piano is a hobby. Hobbies are supposed to be fun. Keep it fun.

If any of the many perfectionists reading this want to add their comments please do so. Or perhaps you are like I was, "What? Me? Perfectionist? Not me?" Yes, you.
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#2232616 - 02/16/14 02:28 PM Re: Perfectionism: healthy vs. neurotic (Graham Fitch) [Re: Sand Tiger]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3437
Loc: Northern England.
""endorse for the effort, not the outcome."

The effort has got to produce an outcome. A musical one, in this case; If a better outcome is achieved by dropping notes on complex pieces, I`ll do it. If I have time and skill levels to obviate the need to do this then I will do otherwise.

But a guy only has so much patience even if he`s got all the time in the world . . .Have fun!
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