I first remember hearing the word anal when I was teenager. I think I was about 16 or so and someone called me anal. At the time I didn’t really know what it meant. They weren’t saying it in a rude way but I didn’t take it as a positive. Over the course of several years I would hear someone calling me anal from time-to-time. Again people never said it in a harsh way but it is said in way that isn’t something you should be proud of.
In the corporate world sometimes it’s a bit more obvious on who is anal. A classic definition of someone who is anal is when you go by a co-workers desk and everything is completely neat and tidy. Papers are filed a certain way, pictures are organized, coffee mug is always on a coaster, and the desk is spotless. You can bet their email is just as organized. Accountants are notorious for being this way. People would say “They dot their I’s and cross their T’s!”. That’s a code word for being anal.
Outside of work it’s not always cut and dry on what is anal. There is some overlap between being anal and dedicated. Does a person who rides his bike every Monday at 5 PM for 20 miles dedicated or anal? What about a person who vacuums their house every Saturday morning at 8 AM? Or someone who does laundry every Friday night?
I believe there is fine line between dedication and being anal. If you refuse to miss training session because it’s on the schedule and you miss out on an important family event then you’re being anal. If you move that same training session to earlier in the day or a different day then I believe you’re being dedicated.
I really believe being anal gets you to the start line of an important event. Yes this does entail dedication but being sure you leave a dinner party early on a Saturday night so you can get in those 80 miles early on Sunday morning requires you to be a bit anal. Having one less drink or not drinking at all is a bit on the anal side. I say this from experience.
So the next time your out at a party and you say you have to leave early to get up and train and they say “You’re being anal!” Smile and say “Thanks for the compliment!”