The S of Living Imperfectly: Stifling the Stickler #atozchallenge

Commands should never be given in a commanding tone. A gentleman requests, lie does not command. We are not to assume so much importance, whatever our station, as to give orders in the “imperative mood,” nor are we ever justified In thrusting the consciousness of servitude on any one. The blunder of commanding sternly is most frequently committed by those who have themselves but just escaped servitude, and we should not exhibit to others a weakness so unbecoming – Martine’s Handbook to Etiquette and Guide to True Politeness, Arthur Martine, Dick & Fitzgerald Publishers, 1866.

S Challenge  Letter The world is made of rules and we are indoctrinated into them at a very young age. We are very young when we first learn the consequences for not obeying a rule and as we grow older we also learn that abiding by rules can earn us praise and positive feelings.

Rules are necessary for society to function. The basic rules have been with us for centuries and were first handed down in the form of tablets. These rules have formed the basis of our criminal law and exist for good reason.

But what happens when you take that little girls from the school playground, the one that was the teacher’s pet and transplant her to adulthood in the middle of an office? The one that still believes that everyone who plays by the rules will be rewarded and praised and that anyone who doesn’t needs to be reminded of the rules.

I was never a teacher’s pet, but I can feel for that girl/woman.

It is a harsh lesson indeed to realise that just because you played fair and by the rules doesn’t necessarily mean you are rewarded. But that is rulesperfectionist thinking in a nutshell – I am virtuous, I am good, I adhered to the rules therefore a certain positive outcome should follow.  Except that discounts human behaviour and the imperfect world in which we operate.

It is equally a difficult lesson for perfectionists to learn the notion that anything less than getting it right is acceptable. You can easily spot that person in conversation, correcting a fact here and a fact there and focusing on accuracy rather than engagement. There are times when correcting a misstated fact is essential to the point that is being made, but there are plenty of other times when the misstatement would have no bearing on the outcome.

It’s time we let getting it right go when it doesn’t really matter. We need to stifle the inner stickler and let other people do it their way. Let the perfectionist go.

There are far better things to put on an epitaph than “he was right”.



About the curtain raiserhttp://raisingthecurtain.netI have spent my life in offices. For now I am putting that behind me and preparing for the second act. Middle age didn't come with acceptable signposts so I am making my own through my writing. A journey shared is more fun than going it solo.

18 thoughts on “The S of Living Imperfectly: Stifling the Stickler #atozchallenge

  1. Life, and history (we’ll ignore politics for now!), are full of cheats. Some cheats are very successful, for a time. Few are so forever… Aren’t the true heroes those beings who abide by the rules (decency, the law of their country, their faith…) without trying to impose them on others? 🙂

  2. Judy, I agree with you. It is sometimes more prudent to let a small misstatement go, as if you always correct, the person may not listen to you on big mistakes. Or, if a very good friend, you can mention it later off-line. Thanks for the alphabet soup this month. BTG

  3. For sure. This is another thing that gets easier as we get older, I think. The ability to not always have to “be right.” It’s kind of like raising kids–you choose which battles to fight. 🙂

  4. Beware the man who knows he’s right … great post thank you. Good to know the rules so that they can be broken. And to have ‘expectations’ that good outcome will follow if you do all the right things .. hoo boy, the saddest rule to live by.
    Garden of Eden Blog

  5. I heard somewhere during this challenge that true patience is being able to let things unfold in a way other than what you intended or imagined. If that’s the true definition, I am one dang patient person because life just doesn’t turn out the way you expect. I think it’s a valuable lesson we all need to learn.

  6. This is another one of those lessons that took me a long time to learn. Interestingly, once I did finally get it, I was happier. I now think of rules as ‘guidelines’ – sometimes it’s ok to let in a little gray 🙂

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