With the ever growing pressure to be amazing at everything it is often tempting to mirror another person’s success, rather than to create or embrace your own.
So you have a degree, but now seems now you need two? Sure you are great at problem-solving, but you’ve got no attention to detail. The ‘Cult of Perfect’ as Brook McCarthy calls it, has us striving for an unattainable ideal that can leave us feeling completely inadequate. (http://www.discordia.com.au/the-cult-of-perfect/). This need to shelve our real selves in place of an idealized version comes at the expense of our wellbeing and is particularly prevalent the workplace.
Creating the illusion of perfect at work is not only harmful to you but is completely wasteful for your company. When I was starting in out in my career in investment banking I was constantly comparing myself with my colleagues. Every day was a constant stream “I haven’t got the right degree”, “I am terrible at math’s” and the most special of them all “I am not a man”. I was drowning under this sense of inadequacy and before long I had internalized it and it was the story I was telling other people too. When acquaintances (or worse clients!) asked how I got my job I would tell them I ‘fell’ into banking or that I was just ‘lucky’. Trying to intimate that the last 5 years of grind had been some kind of fluke, and at the same time insisting I was undeserving of the role.
It took the best part of three years, but when I finally stopped comparing myself to those around me and decided to measure my success on how far I had come in my career, the whole experience changed. I accepted that my story was unique, I hadn’t come up the same path as my colleagues and I needed to use this to my advantage. By mimicking the behaviours of my colleagues I was killing any chance of an original thought, of a brave new idea or a serious money making opportunity and these are the very things that make a good company great and an average career extraordinary.
And now that I am working with two individually talented girls on our own business this feels more important than ever, especially when we think about the people we want to work with in the future. Sure, analytical skills are important and so is knowing how to do a V-lookup, but let’s not discount the value of a person with a sense of humour and a GSD (Get Shit Done) attitude. The reality is that people want to work with REAL people. So dump the copycat method and embrace your own story – because this is who your colleagues, your company and the rest of us are really looking for.