I work with a leader who is sloppy: a bit disorganised, he forgets things and at times drops the ball. He is also extremely successful and admired. The thing is, his sloppiness is interpreted (accurately) as big thinking and creativity. It occurs to me that I don't know any women in senior positions who are also sloppy and successful; that bothers me.
There's a lot to be said for being a perfectionist, as it pushes one to strive for excellence and to reach their true potential. I always loved this characteristic in myself, and I attribute whatever success I've had to it. But for a long time, I didn't realise it was a double-edged sword. Then when I was 19, my perfectionism plunged me into a near-fatal depression.
When high expectations are held of us from an early age we can start to nurture an internal drive to meet the standards set for us and feel chronically unhappy or dissatisfied if we don't achieve the level of success we set out to accomplish. This develops into perfectionism in adulthood and results in the relentless quest for excellence.
For some perfectionism is an internal wasteland where all positives are ignored and life is like wading through treacle. For others perfectionism makes the outside world never enough and disappointment poisons most activities and relationships. Perfectionists walk a tightrope where impending disaster is held at bay with extreme effort.
I've always believed that a pub which can offer me a quality beer that I've never heard of is onto a good start, and anywhere I can walk in and see something on draught that surprises me is doing even better. Anywhere offering a combination of Carlsberg, Carling and Strongbow and not much else is simply not going to cut it.
When I tell people I have had three scholarships in my life, 2 academic and 1 music they are impressed. When I tell them I studied piano for 12 years but stopped short of Grade 8 (the highest grade), they are impressed. When I say I won every form prize in my junior school, won competitions for speech and drama, poetry reading, the bishop chorister's award and played the lead 'Alice' in Alice in Wonderland, all before the age of 11, they ask me why I don't do any of it now? But of course I don't normally tell anyone these things. Because I didn't win them. My mother did.