The Perfection Trap: Embracing the Power of Good Enough (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
“Offers a hopeful beacon and a steady path for anyone struggling to find their footing in a world of impossible standards.” —Daniel H. Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Drive and The Power of Regret
In the tradition of Brené Brown’s bestseller The Gifts of Imperfection, this illuminating book by an acclaimed professor at the London School of Economics explores how the pursuit of perfection can become a dangerous obsession that leads to burnout and depression—keeping us from achieving our goals.
Today, burnout and depression are at record levels, driven by a combination of intense workplace competition, oppressively ubiquitous social media encouraging comparisons with others, the quest for elite credentials, and helicopter parenting. Society continually broadcasts the need to want more, and to be perfect.
Gathering a wide range of contemporary evidence, Curran offers “a clear-eyed look at how perfectionism and its capitalistic ‘obsession with boundless growth’ has contributed to mass discontent and insecurity” (Publishers Weekly). He shows what we can do as individuals to resist the modern-day pressure to be perfect, and in so doing, win for ourselves a more purposeful and contented life.
Filled with “many useful lessons and valuable insights…This book offers an alternative path to a fulfilling, productive life” (Kirkus Reviews) and the relief of letting go to focus on what matters most.
About the Author
Thomas Curran is a professor of psychology at the London School of Economics and author of a landmark study that the BBC hailed as “the first to compare perfectionism across generations.” His TED talk on perfectionism has received more than three million views. His research has been featured in media ranging from the Harvard Business Review to New Scientist to CNN and he has appeared on numerous television and radio programs. He is the author of The Perfection Trap.
“Mr. Curran has produced a manifesto damning our economic system for creating and maintaining a warped set of values that drive perfectionism….I’ve always had a vague sense of these forces, but I’ve never seen this theory laid out so succinctly…. As an explanation of how the destructive illusion of perfectionism arises and as a critique of the economy that creates it, this is an important book.”
—Bill Heavy, Wall Street Journal
"A powerful, poignant book about the impossibly high expectations that stand in the way of health, happiness, and success. Thomas Curran is the world's leading expert on perfectionism, and he's written the definitive book on why it's rising, how it wreaks havoc on our lives, and what we can do to stop it. If you've ever found yourself fearing failure, ruminating about mistakes, or just feeling that you aren't good enough, this is a must-read."
—Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and host of the TED podcast Re:Thinking
“A clear-eyed look at how perfectionism and its capitalistic 'obsession with boundless growth' has contributed to mass discontent and insecurity…Supported by scholarly research and down-to-earth personal anecdotes, Curran’s explication is smart, thorough, and reassuring. The burned-out will find solace here.”
"Timely and bracing…Curran shows that perfectionism corrodes our well-being rather than improves our performance—that it is the very opposite of resilience, flow, and genuine excellence. The Perfection Trap offers a hopeful beacon and a steady path for anyone struggling to find their footing in a world of impossible standards."
—Daniel H. Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Drive and The Power of Regret
"Curran delivers many useful lessons and valuable insights…This book offers an alternative path to a fulfilling, productive life."
"This remarkable book will illuminate some insidious effects of perfectionism in your life, as well as in society writ large. The Perfection Trap is research-based, wise, and practical."
—Amy Edmondson, Professor, Harvard Business School and author of Right Kind of Wrong
"A beautiful, reflective, and rigorous exploration of the causes and consequences of perfectionism...a fascinating and panoramic analysis."
—Grace Blakeley, staff writer at Tribune magazine, host of the A World to Win podcast and author of Stolen and The Corona Crash
"Packed with vivid and thought-provoking case studies, this book will transform how you think about success. It reveals how perfectionism has come to plague all our lives—and what we should do in response."
—Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes, coauthors of High Performance