Perfectionism is a trait seen in high achievers who have contributed awe-inspiring work. The following lists famous people who are perfectionists.
The following ten exemplify success stories of artists, musicians, scientists, and athletes who display a strong work ethic but also perfectionism. The selection is not ordered in any particular way.
Leonardo da Vinci – Inventor and artist
One of the most well-known perfectionists of all time was Leonardo da Vinci.
He is best known for his famous paintings, such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, but he was also an accomplished architect, musician, mathematician, and inventor. Some of his most famous inventions include the helicopter, tank, and parachute.
He once said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned,” indicating that he was always striving for perfection in his work.
Leonardo da Vinci’s legacy continues to inspire and influence people around the world today.
Steve Jobs – Co-founder of Apple Inc
Another famous perfectionist was Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple. He was known for his obsessive attention to detail in the design of Apple’s products.
He famously insisted that the circuit boards inside the first Macintosh computer be signed by the engineers who created them because he wanted every aspect of the product to be perfect and the contributions acknowledged.
Jobs believed that intuition was a key aspect of creativity and innovation. He felt that intuition allowed him to make connections between seemingly unrelated ideas and to see opportunities that others might overlook.
Jobs recognized the value of intuition in guiding his decisions. In an interview, Jobs said, “Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.”
Johann Sebastian Bach – German composer
Bach, a musical perfectionist, would often spend hours revising and refining his compositions until they met his high standards.
This continual self-improvement led Bach to compose over 1,000 pieces of music, including cantatas, concertos, and chorales. His music is known for its complexity and beauty, and he is often credited with helping to develop new musical styles and techniques during his lifetime.
Bach’s most famous works include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, and the St. Matthew Passion. Despite dying over 250 years ago, his music continues to be celebrated and performed to this day, and his legacy as a musical genius lives on.
Akira Kurosawa – Japanese filmmaker
Born in Tokyo in 1910, Kurosawa began his career in the film industry in the 1930s as an assistant director and screenwriter. He gained critical acclaim in the 1950s and 1960s for his films, which often explored themes of humanism, social injustice, and the individual’s struggle against oppressive systems.
Kurosawa would often shoot dozens of takes of a single scene until he was satisfied that he had captured the perfect shot.
Kurosawa’s films are known for their technical brilliance, visual style, and narrative complexity. He was particularly skilled at blending elements of Japanese and Western storytelling traditions, creating a unique cinematic language that has had a profound impact on filmmakers around the world. Some of his most famous works include “Rashomon,” “Seven Samurai,” “Yojimbo,” and “Throne of Blood.”
Kurosawa’s influence can be seen in the work of many contemporary filmmakers, and his legacy continues to be celebrated by cinephiles and scholars alike. He passed away in 1998 at the age of 88, but his contributions to the world of cinema will continue to be felt for generations to come.
Novak Djokovic – Professional Tennis Player
Novak Djokovic is widely considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time, with 20 Grand Slam titles and numerous other accolades to his name.
Djokovic is known for his intense focus and discipline, and he spends countless hours working on every aspect of his game, from his physical fitness to his mental preparation. He constantly seeks out new techniques and strategies to improve his performance, and he is never satisfied with anything less than his absolute best as part of his personal growth.
Serena Williams – professional tennis player
Serena Williams was born in Saginaw, Michigan, and began playing tennis at the age of four. Serena and her sister Venus Williams were coached by their father, Richard Williams, and after overcoming obstacles they quickly rose to prominence in the tennis world.
Serena has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most by any player in the Open Era, as well as 14 Grand Slam doubles titles with her sister Venus. She has also won four Olympic gold medals, one in singles and three in doubles with Venus.
Serena Williams has often been described as a perfectionist by herself and others. However, it is also true that her father, Richard Williams, played a significant role in shaping her attitude toward the sport of tennis.
Richard Williams was known to push his daughters to work hard and strive for excellence. He would often have them practice for hours on end and would even construct their own tennis court in Compton, California, where they grew up.
Serena has also spoken about the pressure she puts on herself to perform at a high level and her drive to achieve perfection.
Michael Jordan – professional basketball player
Jordan is known for his incredible skills on the court, including his jumping ability, scoring prowess, and defensive skills. He played for the Chicago Bulls for most of his career, leading them to six NBA championships and winning five NBA Most Valuable Player awards.
Michael Jordan once said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Jordan retired from basketball in 2003, but his legacy lives on as a cultural icon and a role model for the motivation of aspiring athletes around the world.
His relentless pursuit of perfection on the basketball court led him to become one of the greatest players of all time.
Barbara Streisand – Singer and Actress
Barbara Streisand is a legendary performer who is known for her exceptional talent as an actress, singer, and director. One key trait many people associate with her is her perfectionism.
Barbra Streisand’s perfectionism is evident in her control over creative projects, from the script to lighting and sound design, to ensure every detail is exactly as she wants it. She rehearses tirelessly, earning a reputation as a dedicated and hardworking performer who refuses to settle for anything less than perfect.
Michelangelo – Renaissance artist
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known simply as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance artist.
He is best known for his sculptures, including the Pieta and David, as well as his frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Michelangelo was also a painter and architect, and his work in these fields was also highly influential. His art was characterized by a sense of grandeur, emotion, and realism, and he is often regarded as a master of the human form.
When creating his masterpiece, the Statue of David, Michelangelo spent over two years studying the marble block he intended to use, carefully analyzing its shape, size, and quality to ensure it was perfect for his vision.
Also, Michelangelo was known to be highly critical of his own work and would often destroy pieces that did not meet his exacting standards.
Michelangelo died on February 18, 1564, in Rome, Italy.
Nikola Tesla – Serbian-American inventor
Nikola Tesla was an electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.
Many people consider Tesla a perfectionist due to his relentless pursuit of excellence.
Tesla’s perfectionism was evident in his work on the alternating current (AC) system, which he believed was superior to Thomas Edison’s direct current (DC) system. Tesla worked tirelessly to improve the AC system, refining every aspect of the design until it was efficient, reliable, and safe.
Tesla was born in 1856 in Smiljan, Croatia, and studied engineering at the Austrian Polytechnic in Graz. Today, he is remembered as one of the greatest inventors in history and a true visionary.
Inspiration: The Success Stories of Famous Perfectionists
Think of all the outstanding progress because of people we refer to as ‘perfectionists’.
They are renowned for giving the world extraordinary things!
So, allow yourself applause if you have been labeled a perfectionist because you are part of a group of people with special qualities.
While it can drive individuals to achieve incredible feats of excellence, perfectionism can also lead to anxiety, self-doubt, and burnout – see my article on the perfection-anxiety connection.