24 December 2013

Are you a perfectionist? Do you refuse to rest until you’ve reached the highest standards? And is this desire to achieve absolute excellence a blessing or a curse?

Personally, I don’t see perfectionism as a negative trait and I’m sure that some of the people who know me would describe me as one. It’s a characteristic that can be a marker of someone’s pride in their work, and the drive they feel to achieve the best possible result at all times. However, it can also be a double-edged sword and if not managed correctly, can actually end up holding you back.

Ask yourself, why are you trying to achieve the ‘perfect’ ideal; is it for yourself or for the approval of other people? Does the idea of failure bring you out in a cold sweat? Richard Branson is a great example of the lessons that failure can teach you and openly admits that before his success there were plenty of failures. If you can’t stand the idea of making mistakes then your perfectionism could be working against you, not for you.

I’ve learnt a lot about my own standards and expectations whilst UKFast Campus has been coming together, with builders everywhere and scaffolding creeping up the walls outside like a metal vine plant! I have learnt that, whilst the small things matter hugely, there is room for compromise on some areas, which can be de-prioritised until other more important jobs are completed. There has to be a balance between wanting the absolute best for my team – having the ideas we’ve had come to life as we envisioned them – and actually getting things done.

However, it’s also important not to cut corners or settle for less than your potential. An example of this is the amazing futuristic desk we have built in reception.  The four lines of neon lighting that run across the front of it were designed to be equidistant but when the floor was altered, it raised everything up and put it out of kilter so we had to begin again. Yes, it’s a huge amount of design time and we could have done lots of things more simply, but the attention to detail reflects the focus and care that the team around me put into their work every day.

So, if you’re cooking dinner this Christmas, don’t let a few overcooked sprouts spoil your efforts or distract you from the things that really matter. After all, what could be more perfect than a day spent celebrating with your family and friends?


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