“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.” – Victor Hugo.
One of the most asked questions of any candidate in a job interview is which of your personality traits that you are most proud of and which that you would like to improve upon? For years the most popular response, and one that I have used more often than not is that “being a perfectionist I always strive for the best that I can be for my employer while the trait that I need to improve on is the lack of patience that periodically I can display.”
With age, experience and maturity one realizes that perfection is unattainable in our lifetime and that you can be proud of what you produce despite the fact that it probably could always be better. With the demands placed upon all of us, a timely and appropriate end-product is very acceptable when it is quite obvious that next in line is another demand that you must respond to right now! It was always my goal to create a perfect result but unfortunately that perfection always provided stress, anxiety and disappointment along the way. Acceptability has become my new mantra and it appears to be the right approach for most people who are aware of the never-ending demands that are placed upon them in today’s society.
Patience is another personality trait that is a constant in employment interviews. I must admit that for too many years my pet answer was that patience is a virtue and that it was an attribute that never found a home with me. I wore the badge of honor thinking that others were just like me; that patience was a sign of weakness and that if you were to achieve much in this world that you must demand results now and not later.
Maybe it is because I have lived outside a metropolitan community these last few years or maybe it is because age has a knack of slowing you down, but I have come to the realization that everything doesn’t have to be achieved in a speedy context and that the job doesn’t get done any faster by standing over the person (for image purposes only) who is doing the job.
I remember the first day or two that I lived in the country and came upon a stop sign. Of course I thought the car in front of me was too slow to move into the intersection and thus I beeped my horn. I wasn’t surprised that the individual in the car in front of me raised his hand in response but I was taken aback when I noticed that what was displayed was the full hand, as in a wave of hello rather than a middle finger raised in anger!
We are never too old to learn and if I have learned anything over the years is that the best manager is one that can roll with the punches, be flexible when flexibility is demanded and never expect more from others than what you expect from yourself. Perfection is a lofty goal and a goal that we should all strive for, but we shouldn’t stop the world just because we haven’t achieved such on every project.
The long line of tasks that need to be accomplished is forming right behind you and before you take two years to complete that perfect job, just think about everything else that needs to be accomplished right now. With fewer hands to complete the task and what seems to be more demands placed upon all of us, maybe acceptability is the perfection of our current times.
And, oh by the way, I would advocate you finding a higher patience quotient as well, if you are going to survive in today’s economy.
“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” – Saint Augustine.
Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career. He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow (FASAE) by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) since 1986. He currently is between positions and has taken the opportunity to author more than 75,000 words or 125 blog postings on the topics of job search, career transition and association management.
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