The other day I had a nostalgic moment when I was sending something to an executive director. I reviewed the information being sent a couple times, but in the end didn’t feel it was complete. Then I asked myself; would this be acceptable to the biggest critic I’ve ever had in my career?
Flash back seven or so years. I had a consulting gig where I working for a self-proclaimed “perfectionist.” Everything me and my team did was scrutinized. All our output was subject to hours of review to ensure it was up to his rigid standards. He asked one question after another after another. I swear the guy never slept, but instead just reviewed progress and made sure he knew every detail.
As time went on, I got to know him and started to anticipate the questions that might be asked. His questions became less and less, though they never went away. Everything I sent I asked myself, is this thorough and have all angles covered? If yes, it went. If there was something that didn’t feel was complete, I added more detail. He was never mean in his questioning, but he did expect answers.
At the end of my engagement, I shook his hand and wished him the best. He told me he enjoyed working with me and wished the best also.
He said he was fully aware of his management style and the fact he asked lots of questions. Though I was not detailed enough initially, I got better and he could tell I thought through my updates and ongoing responses. He also said in the future, before I send anything to an executive, I need to ask myself if it would be acceptable to my biggest critic, which was him.
His voice still comes into my head before sending out documentation or updates, especially if it’s important and going to an executive. Though I didn’t appreciate him at the time, I understand more now why he was like that.
Who’s your biggest critic? How did they challenge you then, and now, to be better?