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  • Writer's pictureShandy Welch

When “good enough” is perfect!- "The Stickler" broken down.

In Positive Intelligence there are 10 identified “saboteurs”; these are behavioral and cognitive traits that shape the foundational structures of our thinking and interacting. While all of these traits have positive attributes that lend to our success and happiness, if left unchecked, they have the ability to hijack us resulting in negative emotion, behavior, and relationships. Most of us have a bit of all of the saboteurs within us but typically you will see two or three dominate.The “Stickler” is one that I see come up time after time with many of my clients. While your standards are high and you are able to bring organization to projects and lead with clear guiding principles it may seem that you are inflexible, don’t trust others to do a good job, and are highly critical. Not necessarily the image you are hoping for!

Here is an example; while you typically make dinner for the family you have allowed your spouse to take over so you can do other work. When you return, you quickly notice and point out that the flame on the stove is too high, the pasta is overcooked by one minute, and the carrots have been sliced in rounds and not sticks. Your body language says it all, and you tell your partner to just step out and you will finish it up.

Let’s remember, the pasta is done, the carrots are sliced, and there is no burning food. How does your need for perfection and criticism make your partner feel? Do you think they will jump at the opportunity to help out again? My guess is they are thinking; “I will never do it right, so why even start.” “No matter how I help, it will never be good enough.” “There is never appreciation for what I do correctly or even that I do it at all.”

The natural reaction is to retreat, offer less, and deny potential.

We all have ways we like to see things done, “our way!” But is there room for another perspective?

  • What is the cost of overlooking slight imperfections for the opportunity of connection, insight, and appreciation?

  • What does it feel like to be judging others' so frequently?

  • When does “good enough” come into play?

This is where the 80/20 rule is helpful; If you focus on it, 80% of things can be moved into the “good enough” plie, while only 20% really requires perfection. Sticklers put everything in the 20% pile and in turn sacrifice relationships and create a tremendous amount of anxiety in their lives. People who have a strong stickler often find themselves feeling frustrated, disappointed with themselves and others, and feel obligated to “do it all” leading to anxiety and stress.

When you find yourself about to micromanage or correct someone’s work, pause and ask yourself, “does it REALLY matter?” What if I don’t say anything, might there be something to learn? Might there be another way that is different but just as productive and useful?

This great article from Stanford Graduate School of Business interviewed Shirzad from Positive Intelligence and breaks down five strategies you can implement to break the habits of self-destructive thoughts to create a more successful work life.

If you are interested in learning what are your top saboteurs, take the free assessment here. It is so helpful to become aware of your blind spots and a great insight into your tendencies if left unchecked.

If you are interested in diving in deeper, I am a certified Positive Intelligence Coach and would be more than happy to review your results and help you move to the next level of insight, This is also great to do with your team, it brings awareness and appreciation of others' strengths and grounds behavior in understanding and empathy.

My Challenge To You:

  • Write the word “Stickler'' on a piece of paper and tape it where you will see it most. This will be a reminder for the next 7 days to become aware of your patterns of thinking and reacting. Become curious as to where this most shows up and what are the feelings and thoughts behind the reaction.

  • Challenge yourself to not only be aware but change course. Stop yourself from correcting another, ask yourself “does it really matter”, thank them for their work, and move on. Can you do this 3 times?

Through simple awareness and insight, it is easy to identify the negative consequences of this attribute and begin to make substantial changes. I believe in you!

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