Rubber stamps.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist. And I’m not saying that’s a good thing. There are times when I’m sure that I should let it go, but I want my work product to be as good as I can possibly make it.

I think my clients appreciate it. And I know they trust that I’ll do my very best for them. And I do.

But I wasn’t always like this.

A perfectionist, I mean.

My first job. I was about 10. Maybe a little younger – I don’t know for sure. My dad ran a magnet factory. Yup, folks, you heard me right. A magnet factory.

How’s business? Picking up! (yuk yuk yuk)
What an attractive business!
Strongest in the magnetic field.
You know, opposites attract.
Yes, I’ve heard ’em all.

But I digress.

So my dad hired me when I was probably still in elementary school.

My job? To stamp the manilla envelopes. Small ones. Coin envelope size. Inside each was a sheet of magnutties – a sheet of scored magnetic rubber that you could break apart into 50 (or was it 100?) little teeny rubber magnets.

All I had to do was ink the stamper and stamp the envelopes.

Really big piles of envelopes.

I’m not saying it was hard, but you know what it’s like. Sometimes the stamp isn’t even. Sometimes some words don’t show up right.

I’m guessing I had an 80% success rate.

And that would have been peachy keen…except that when I messed one up, I didn’t set it aside. Instead, I’d put it in the middle of the pile so no one would see it.

At 10, that seemed like a reasonable plan. Who would know?

Turns out, I hadn’t thought it through. Because when the grown-up employees put the magnutties into the envelopes, it seems they noticed the crappy stamping job.

Maybe it was the incredible humiliation of what I’d done that drove me to do better. Or rather, drove me to higher expectations of myself. Or maybe, I learned that getting caught doing a bad job was so darn unpleasant that I’d do anything to avoid that again.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter what the motivation was. But here I am. Driven to over-deliver, to please, to exceed expectations.

And when the ink coverage isn’t good and the envelope is not up to par, I fess up and take responsibility.

That’s just how I roll.

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