Sticklers are annoying!
Don’t sticklers annoy you?
Who are sticklers? People and institutions that focus on minutia, distracting from important details and the big picture.
An example of a non-stickler is an artist or engineer who pays attention to detail.
An example of a stickler is a bureaucrat who insists on following every letter of a rule, even against its spirit. I’m sure you’ve had to deal with them.
Leaders are rarely sticklers. I don’t just mean people who lead. Look at the top performers in a field. They tend to be laid back, free to experiment. They are secure.
That’s the main reason people are sticklers: insecurity. They know they don’t measure up on what matters so they try to measure up on everything else, including what doesn’t matter. Focusing on what doesn’t matter distracts from what does and gives poor direction.
Poor performers are insecure. They know they aren’t the leader, so to prove themselves, they try to enforce everything. Sadly, they dwell on unimportant things too.
As an educator, I see it in schools. Top schools trust their students. They expect a lot of them and don’t focus on things tangential to learning like, say, margins or fonts on papers. In return, the students pay attention to those details. If they don’t, the teachers don’t sweat it because they know some extenuating circumstance forced it. The teacher might suggest the student fix the problem for the next time.
Lower tier schools punish students even for non-educational things. Teachers knock them for margins and turning something in a few minutes late. While attention to detail is important, insecure people who feel they have to prove themselves focus on irrelevant details.
The security non-sticklers have enable them to experiment and extend their lead. Sticklers’ insecurities distracts them from making progress.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees