When I saw this tweet yesterday, I immediately knew what I was going to write about today:
Click on it and read the thread underneath. It’s not really about perfectionism, it’s about power. Here’s one that struck a particular chord with me:
It’s a kind of genius, isn’t it? All this time we spend trying to earn a kind of recognition that can’t be earned through work. Rather than continually asking the lazy-but-privileged to meet our level of effort, we can throw our hands up and simply drop to theirs. I don’t think the tweeter is advocating a drop, though – not really. Those not supported by the puff of privilege have plenty of better things to hold them up.
And this is a quality of work and a self-worth issue. There’s no correlation between how much ‘busy work’ people do and how much (money or respect) they are granted in return. Genuine improving work always pays dividends, but it’s thin on the ground! I’ve said it before: we’ve got success all wrong. There’s no correlation between success and intelligence. And there’s no correlation between success and ‘keeping busy’.
Have a look at some of our world leaders, if you don’t believe me. Successful people aren’t marked out by the empty hours they tick off at the coalface. They’re marked out by their constellation of rock-solid self-beliefs. In some cases, these allow them to act alpha. And we keep lapping it up, keep handing them power.
There’s a bit of risk involved in dropping a level. I’ve dropped a level pretty much every year for the last twenty years, and… honestly? I think it’s raised suspicion and resentment just as much as it’s attracted respect. If I write and speak as if I expect respect, matching the tone, pace and energy level of the person speaking to me, it always feels like a risk. But we have to do it. We have to talk as if we know what we’re talking about. The world isn’t always ready for it, but we have to act as if it is. It’s the only way anything will change.
Don’t lean in! Don’t rush to answer, placate or reassure. Don’t worry about making someone feel mildly awkward. Don’t over-supply: let someone else earn their salary as they do a bit of the work, too. Sit back, take a deep breath, and enjoy the power.