Maximizer, the Uber Perfectionist

Perfectionists, rejoice.  There is someone even more out there than you.  It is the maximizers.  Maximizers differ from perfectionists in that the former believe they deserve the best of everything and can actually get it, whereas the latter knows that the goal is not realistic.  Maximizers operate on the belief that to be the best, you must have the best.  Do you know a maximizer?  Are you one?

Though maximizers are known to make better objective decisions, they are usually still unhappy with the outcome because of second guessing and self-doubt.   I’ve known a couple of maximizers in my life, and they’re great to work with, hard to live with.  You just know they will do an amazing job and get the job done.  They make better choices than the rest of us.  The down side is that they will do this amazing job, no matter what the cost.   They will tend to be unhappier with the outcome, even if it surpasses the results that others might achieve.  This need, this drive, seems to be something that is difficult for them to let go of, and they are often dragging the whole family into their obsession and then their dissatisfaction when it doesn’t turn out as well as expected.

Clifton StrengthsFinders identifies this as a strength.  Being absolutely committed to producing the best possible product is a real and marketable talent.   The CSF maximizer also helps the people in their lives be the best they can be.  This type of maximize makes great advisors, mentors and bosses.

All strengths have a downside if not managed properly, and maximizer is no exception.  All of you who are perfectionists or love a perfectionist know how hard they are on themselves.  Magnify x10 with a maximizer.  To cultivate peace of mind, satisfaction with outcomes, and familial harmony, maximizers need to learn to be satisfied with mere excellence.   In other words, they should cultivate their inner “satisficer.”  Satisficers are content and satisfied with excellence, and are better at bouncing back after a set back.  Satisficing is good for happiness and well-being.

Here are some strategies from Barry Schwartz (The Paradox of Choice) to become more satisficing:

  • Choose when to choose – Review how you made decisions (steps and how you felt during each step), study the outcome.  This strategy helps to determine the cost of how you make choices.
  • Choose, don’t pick – Decrease deliberation time, then reflect on what you want in the areas of life where decisions matter.  If none of the options meets your needs than think of better options.
  • Satisfice more and maximize less – Decide where “good enough” works;  scrutizine how you choose in those areas, then apply the strategy more broadly
  • Think about opportunity costs of opportunity costs – Stick with your choice unless you’re really unhappy; don’t be tempted by new and improved; don’t worry you’ll miss out.
  • Make decisions irreversible.
  • Practice gratitude for what you have.
  • Regret less – Alter standards to a satisficer, reduce the number of options, practice gratitude.
  • Anticipate adaptation – We get used to the nicer stuff and get immune to it and want more.  Adaptation feeds your maximize tendencies so prepare for this to occur.

My philosophy is a little simpler:  Apply maximizer ruthlessly to your life balance.  Create an image of what the perfect balance looks like and put it somewhere prominent.  Imagine how your life will be if you had the best possible balance!  Then go execute it in that awesome maximizer way.  Even settling for an excellent balance would be pretty darn amazing.

All:  Don’t forget to send me questions or topics you’d like for me to discuss.  Go either to this blog or to the Talk to Susanna link on the left.  Thanks!  Look forward to hearing from you!

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