Saga of the Saboteurs – The Stickler

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Written by Katie

20/07/2022

Hello there!

Apologies for stating the obvious but we are on Part III of what decided, by itself, to be a series.

If this is the first article you landed on, then you might understandably be a little confused but don’t worry, I’ve got you. Just head over to the blog page and you’ll see Parts 1 and 2.

Thank you for stopping by and for sharing in the things that light me up!

Our guest minion today is……

Drumroll, please…………

The Stickler

The dictionary definition of a stickler is

a person who insists on exactness or completeness in something

That’s a good thing right?

Wanting things to be done properly, on time, in full, and within budget. Those details are important. Right?

So at what point does the Stickler become one of the Saboteurs?

Simply put, when taken too far and perfectionism becomes the order of the day.

When there’s only one right way to do things — my way or the highway.

When there’s no space created to learn from mistakes — do it perfectly or don’t do it all.

When nobody can match up to exacting standards that are set ridiculously high — if you want something done right, do it yourself.

That my friend is the voice of the Stickler.

“But wait” the Stickler will tell you “I have a good reason, hear me out”

And so you listen. And you start to nod your head because, honestly, it kind of makes sense.

Who really wants to spend time correcting mistakes? Surely that’s time that could be better spent elsewhere?

Who doesn’t like the warm, fuzzy feel of accomplishment for a job perfectly done?

Doing things right is the hallmark of excellence and everyone should aspire to excellence, surely?

Why wouldn’t you want to feel proud of being a standard-bearer of the highest order that people look up to?

And that’s the seductive nature of our Saboteur voices.

The ability to tap into our deepest desires and present their behaviour as a totally acceptable way of attaining those desires.

But are they really?

Photo by Mulyadi on Unsplash

The Stickler is usually very methodical and almost always punctual. Both are fantastic traits, particularly when things need to get done.

On the flip side, however, because of the inherent drive to be perfect, the Stickler can have quite a few not-so-fantastic characteristics as well.

They can be intolerant. Not only of other people but of themselves as well.

And that can come out in how they use language. Cutting jibes, underhanded comments, backhanded compliments, constant criticism and painful sarcasm can become par for the course.

Because they’re focused on being a beacon of perfectionism, there’s little space for relaxation or enjoyment. The Stickler is a master of self-control and self-restraint. They don’t respond well to teasing it and view it often as a mark of disrespect.

Interestingly, although they often hand out criticism, they’re rarely able to take it well.

But it wouldn’t look good to complain about that, so they sit with a lot of unexpressed anger.

Since nobody but the Stickler can achieve their high standards, they’re plagued by a sense of deep disappointment and frustration at being surrounded by incompetents (picture Scar and how he felt about the hyenas in The Lion King. The original. I’m yet to acknowledge the remake).

And since noone else is “good enough”, the Stickler lives with constant anxiety based on the impending sense of doom that accompanies what they see as inevitable failure.

And that’s only the impact on them.

Being a Stickler also has an impact on the people around them.

Because they’re so convinced that their way is the only way, they inhabit a world where diversity is seen as a challenge which means not only do they not do well with people whose style differs from theirs, but they also don’t manage change very well because they can be quite inflexible and rigid.

Then the people around them end up living a life resigned to the “reality” that they’ll never be enough, that they’re barely competent which causes self-doubt, plummeting self-worth, anxiety and resentment.

It becomes hard to deal with the constant barrage of criticism and so they can turn inwards to avoid having to deal with it.

The Stickler is what happens when the pursuit of progress and growth unwittingly evolve into a rigid adherence to perfectionism.

When we get so caught up in the end result that we don’t enjoy the process.

What do you think, friend, do you recognise this minion?


This series is based on one of the coaching tools that I use in my practice known as Positive Intelligence. Created by Shirzad Chamine, it’s a framework designed to maximise people’s potential by helping them to enhance their best qualities while also helping them learn how to minimise and quiet the qualities that stand in their way.

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