White Collar Support Group Blog: The Perfection Syndrome, by Fellow Traveler Basia Skudrzyk

Basia Skudrzyk is a member of our online White Collar Support Group that meets on Zoom on Monday evenings.


When a reporter asked Thomas Edison, “How did it feel to fail 10,000 times? Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 10,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 10,000 steps.”

Great success is built on failure, frustration and even catastrophe.

Although we strive for perfection, no one ever gets there. Perfection is subjective and each person has his or her own view as to what constitutes perfection.

Perfectionism has been considered a form of OCD. There are those who have an overwhelming fever of making mistakes; an intense need for things to be perfect or done right. Perfectionists seem to analyze and analyze before making a decision. The reality of life is that nothing is ever perfect. The need to over analyze is what causes paralysis or even worse, the self-fulling prophecy which can often lead to chaos and failure in a person’s life.

Here is a news flash. There is no such thing as perfection. The most that anyone can do is the best they can under the circumstances with what they know. You make more mistakes when you take a long time to decide on a matter than if you were to decide quickly and swiftly. Do not confuse this last statement to mean that you make decisions from the hip without proper analysis. Moving quickly does not imply a lack of preparation. A surgeon does not operate without x-rays or tests, but when an emergency occurs she must be able to operate within a matter of hours.

Take everything into consideration, analyze and then decide. Rudy Rodolfo has learned from his work life experience as a trial attorney that things can go from bad to worse during a trial. Decisions have to be made at the drop of a hat because there is no time. You are in the middle of the trial with 12 jurors sitting there looking at you. Same goes for your personal life. Sometimes we have to act quick based on the resources and capabilities we have in front of us.

Trying to be perfect can also lead to negative thoughts and a lack of action. How often have you heard the expression?: “If it is not perfect, I am not going to do it.”

People who expect perfection are afraid of failure. It can be a devastating fear. People who are successful have failed one or more times in their lives. A classic example is Abraham Lincoln who is considered by many as one of the greatest American Presidents. He is remembered for what he did as President of the United States and not for the failures he suffered before. Lincoln’s life was far from perfect, but despite that he achieved incredible success.

1832: Lost his job and was defeated for state legislator

1833: Failed in Business

1835: Sweetheart died

1836: Had a nervous breakdown

1838: Defeated for speaker of the Illinois state legislature

1843: Defeated for nomination for Congress

1848: Did not get renominated

1849: Rejected for land officer

1856: Defeated for nomination for Vice President

1858: Again defeated for U.S. Senate

1860: Elected President of the United States

When you reach your goal, no matter what it is, others will focus on your success and not on the failures that occurred before.

Carefully observe oneself and one’s situation. Carefully observe others, and carefully observe one’s environment. Consider fully. Act decisively. — Jigoro Kano, Founder of Judo


Toughness is often confused with being mean, aggressive, and physically strong. Nothing is farther from the truth. It is often the strong and aggressive who fail. You are probably wondering what does this have to do with Judo. The definition of Judo is “the gentle way.”

It is hard to believe when you see two Judo fighters in a tournament that there is nothing gentle about it. You throw someone to the ground as hard as you can or you can defeat the opponent with chokes or arm bars. The premise behind Judo is that you use your opponents force against him. What if someone is charging at you? You can either crash into him head on or you can step aside and deflect. Rather than using all of your force against him, you can bring him to you more and use his energy against him. These are lessons Rudy Rodolfo has learned from a lifetime of competitive Judo.

First, you need the mental discipline to control your emotions and control your movements. Judo fighters practice and practice before they can properly execute a throw while sparing. Practice and preparation always makes you stronger. When you confront a personal crisis it is important to be as calm as you can be before reacting. Play out sceneries in your mind. Verbalize your response ahead of time. It is only after that when you react. Deflect the anger and negative energy of others, but control your anger when you do. As strong as the pine tree is, it can be broken by the strong winds of a hurricane. However, a willow tree that bends with the wind will not break.

Jigoro Kano espoused a well known principle. In an argument, you may silence your opponent by pressing an advantage of strength, wealth, or education; but you cannot really convince him. Though he is no longer saying anything, in his heart he still keeps to his opinion. The only way to make him change is to speak quietly and reasonably. When he understands that you are not trying to defeat him, but only to find the truth, he will listen to you and perhaps accept what you tell him.

Life and Judo have a lot in common. You can be gentle, yet disciplined, and still be mentally tough.

Read the balance of Basia’s article on Medium.com, link here.


This article was inspired by Judo Master and Chief International Litigation Expert, Rodolfo (Rudy) Rivera, a well-decorated Chief International Counsel for a Fortune 500 Company for the past 15 years; as well as a Board Member of the Association of Corporate Counsel. He sits on the Board of Communities in Schools in Jacksonville, Florida. CIS provides after school programs for kids who are under-served in the community and with a high drop out rate. They seek to increase high school graduation rates and provide a platform for successful educational pathways. Rudy is a frequent guest speaker and lecturer on managing litigation, litigating in multicultural jurisdictions, and managing outside counsel.


Basia Skudrzyk is a highly seasoned workforce development coach, business director, author, keynote speaker, and educator; with a marketing, organizational behavior and international public relations background. Determined to create successful organizational cultures focused on authenticity and innovation. Results-driven, motivated, high achieving, and collaborative  with a can-do attitude. 

Experiences include leading and coaching professional teams, B2B kbeauty private label manufacturing, reentry programs, education and curriculum development; across multiple global industry sectors: technology, non-for-profit, beauty/wellness, private label cosmetics, healthcare/medical, education, and hospitality. 2012 recipient of the St. Louis Business Journal’s “40 under 40” Award. Graduate of FOCUS “CORO Women in Leadership” Program. Basia’s website: basianajarroskudrzyk.com, Twitter: @BasiaSkudrzyk. LinkedIn: Basia Skudrzyk, MBA | LinkedIn.