Hyper achievement is overestimated. We admire superachievers at the early stages of our careers for their drive, motivation, and outstanding results. They are stimulating to be around. If you partner with one, join their team or marry them, in the long run, you'll notice that not all shine is gold. In this article, I'll guide you through the personality traits, drivers, and struggles of high-achieving people, so that you can create more satisfaction and balance in your career and life. I'm writing as a seasoned coach and a high achiever myself. Please take my word that life is gentler when you unhook from the adrenaline of running from one thing to the next.
In current corporate culture, goals, strategy, and objective indicators are the driving force. We want to prove ourselves as people who can achieve a lot. Just check your LinkedIn feed as an example. Potentially, we all would like to be superachievers, wouldn't we?
Superachievers owe their performance to a specific set of traits and behaviors. Extremely useful in the early stages of their careers, those same qualities may turn against them later on. If you are at the top of the corporate ladder, you should want to identify and release them on time in leadership or management roles.
To help you, I've pulled together a list of personality traits superachievers display and turned them into a quick self-test. There's no objective score. The number of features you tick will give you indication enough to know whether you're a super achiever or working for one.
From 0 (Not at all) to 10 (Definitely me), how accurate are these statements about you?
You have probably guessed these features are not good or bad. Adding them and living them to an extreme is what threatens your performance, health and relations. My point is to help you assess where you are and what you need to let go of to release pressure and make more satisfactory progress.
Hyper-achievers are great at goal setting. Their motivation is a no-brainer. They surmount to higher picks and seem to run on a never-ending battery. They're equipped to achieve a lot, making sure they do.
Superachievers know how to get themselves going and trigger others to go. They land qualifications, training, opportunities, responsibilities, and what seems a skyrocket ascension to the top of the career ladder.
Have you been there? I've been there. I've coached dozens of executives who have been there. That's why I want to present the other side of the coin to you.
For a superachiever, motivation digs its roots in the never enough. Superachievers have a sincere desire to be successful. They want to be acknowledged and visible for a reason: to begin with, to prove themselves that they can do it; and, if necessary, that they can do it on their own.
That´s to beat challenges, reach their goals and succeed in the ascension to their next (career) aspiration. At the beginning of their careers, this incredible push can be unbeatable.
But, at what cost?
Unwantedly, they may be on the short side of high stake decisions. In my experience, they often rush through the decision skipping data and in-depth analysis. Their drive is to achieve their goal, run into the next and keep going, often missing the point, especially when emotions are at stake.
Their perspective may be so tunneled they miss crucial information. Hyper-achievers are so focused on their goal that they skip data and lose efficiency.
On the emotional side, they don't adapt quickly. You'll hear people referring to them as self-centered: superachievers almost seem blind to what others around them feel, say, or think.
This may sound extreme, but it can be challenging for superachievers to shift attention away from the goal towards someone else's feelings or priorities. That has nothing to do with generosity and willingness to help. Instead, with a keen urgency to achieve their goal more shortly and most efficiently.
High achieving people do have a desire for continuous improvement. They are keen on what can be fixed or done next. The counterpart is they focus more on “next thing to do”than now. In that sense, they´re procrastinators. They know what needs to be done, but they trip on it. Often they over effort so much that they burn out.
Super achievers have a quick tempo. They want to move fast and are capable of doing so. Even though they genuinely enjoy working with others, they can lose a team member without even noticing! In the face of emotional turmoil, they leave people behind. They think others can't do what they can or not as fast.
They indeed respect others enormously, but their respect depends on the results. That's, they apply the same measure to others as they apply to themselves.
"For the Hyper-Achiever, self-validation, self-acceptance and self-love are all conditional — conditioned on continual performance. This is often the result of either conditional or altogether absent validation from parental figures. Even with very loving and approving parents, it is easy for children to get the sense that their parents or caregivers love them in return for achieving, obeying the rules or having good manners, rather than unconditionally". – Source
High achievers depend on performance and achievement to respect and validate themselves.
For us hyper-achievers, it's challenging to experience a profound sense of satisfaction and peace. Even when we mark all the tasks as done, or others acknowledge or reward us, deep inside, something is missing. We're always hunting for more: something to fix, to improve, our next pick to surmount
Being a high achiever can help you shine in the first stages of your career.
At first, your drive for results and huge motivation to be better by the day can help your career growth. However, high achievers are not as people-oriented as they are goal-oriented. As soon as you have to lead a team or face high-stakes decisions, the same strengths that propelled you can hold you back.
Up the corporate ladder, your hyper achiever traits will turn into obstacles.
Up the corporate ladder, challenges are not about skills and expertise but relationships. What is at stake then is:
Do you need to do something about it? That's up to you, but please, once you progress in your career, consider what is at stake:
Once you let go of the hook, "recovered" superachievers are the best asset to any leading position. We are great professionals, extremely experienced, and capable of developing others. Once we release the pressure, we are significant contributors to any community. That's our power and strength.
It has taken you a lifetime to become a superb superachiever. Now it's time to "unbecome". I can assure you that, as you enter the higher stages of your corporate career or transition to be an independent consultant, what once helped you, it's likely getting in your way. It would help if you shifted towards a more gentle, efficient way to run business and life.
Either way, I can help you assess your best option. Reach out or book a free call now using this link.
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