What is Atelophobia?

We all want to be good at things, and often, we may even strive for perfection. While this is an admirable trait, as it means that you put a lot of effort into your tasks, there is a danger that you can go too far with it. Atelophobia, or fear of perfection is when you fear imperfection so much that you may develop an anxiety disorder that can affect relationships, and which can make you feel like everything you do is wrong


Symptoms of atelophobia include:

  • Inability to Relax.
  • Sensitivity to criticism
  • Being quick tempered.
  • Difficulties in becoming motivated


We caught up with Gemma Leigh Roberts to help out. Ranked as a ‘Top #5  LinkedIn Learning Author’ and Founder of The Resilience Edge, she is passionate about teaching people to build their psychological resilience in order to navigate through challenges, enhance performance and thrive both at work and in their career challenges.


“I’m not qualified to do this”

I have spent much of my career battling with my perfectionist tendencies, or feeling like an imposter. Earlier this year, my “Developing your Emotional Intelligence” LinkedIn Learning course was number 5 in the top 20 courses for 2020, which is amazing but also a little surprising considering the backstory.

I had written the course, and been through the editing process. I arrived in California in March 2017 to film at the LinkedIn Learning film studios. I was 10 weeks pregnant and feeling very sick and very emotional. In fact I had to stop filming to be sick several times. I was also completely overwhelmed, battling the imposter voice in my head, telling me “I’m totally not qualified to be doing this, I’m going to look terrible on camera, and why would anyone want to watch this anyway?”.

I was working with absolute professionals at the top of their game – producers, directors, lighting technicians, graphic designers and kept thinking: “they’re going to see straight through me, they’re going to see I’m not good enough”. All I wanted to do was stop the process, but I was too far in.

Today that course has been watched over 375,000 times. And I now realise that I struggle with striving for perfection and feeling like I’m just not good enough whenever I take a big leap in my career, it’s part of the process for me. So I need to find a way to work with it. It’s not easy to let go of perfectionism, or push through when I just want to run away, but I’ve learned what works for me.


4 Mindsets You Need to Adopt

#1 Commitment is the Key

I commit to opportunities and force myself to trust that I will find a way to deliver. Once I’ve committed, the pain of backing out and letting people down would be greater than producing something that I don’t feel is absolutely perfect.


#2 Be Kind to Yourself

I’ve learned to live with good not great. I make mistakes all the time, sometimes it’s silly things like spelling mistakes, sometimes I forget names when I need to introduce someone and it’s embarrassing. It can sting so badly, but I’ve learned to be kind to myself and understand my intentions are always good, and I’m human. I will make mistakes. So I try to aim for good enough not perfect.


#3 Switch Your Perspective

My work is very important to me, but let’s be honest it’s not life or death, and I have to get over feeling like I should always look like I know what I’m doing.


#4 Embracing Failure Helps You Develop Resilient

I embrace failure. This really plays into my work on resilience research – we learn so much from mistakes, and it’s only by going through tough times that we can become resilient in the future. I try to talk about mistakes with others to try and demystify the process, and also help to build strong connections with others – a lot of us are in the same boat trying to do our best, striving to perform at our peak, but also sometimes getting things wrong. I now think to myself “at least I tried”, even if it didn’t go to plan.

Do you know anyone who has atelophobia? Share this to them!

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