Overachieving. What does it get you?

This may sound odd, but I have often found that overachievers I have come across are focused on areas that may not get them to the place they actually want to be. For instance, when I think back to being in high school, a vast majority of the students who were your average or below average students have turned out to be some of the most successful business people I have encountered.

Plenty of examples of either non-academic focused, or what were perhaps “late bloomers” in terms of their motivation can be cited (e.g., Debbi Fields, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Mary Kay Ash, Michael Dell, Evan Williams, Kylie Jenner). All of these people became either millionaires or billionaires, but I can’t confirm if they are all satisfied with their lives. However, we can assume they have other concerns that having vast amounts of money bring with it.  Whether they were an overachiever likely isn’t one of them.

Controversially suggesting that being an overachiever may not be important, and may not be a  popular sentiment. However, it is more important to consider whether overachieving is always worth it. Is it?

If you have been characterized as someone who is, let’s stop and pause for a moment to think about how having this skill has helped you. Perhaps it allowed you to graduate at the top of your class? Or, maybe you landed your dream job, or got into a top-notch business, law or medical program?  All of these attainments are commendable, but does it always produce the end results you are looking for?

Having one strong characteristic can be a good thing. Although having a mix of them is even more desirable. Why? Because from my perspective of having seen the differences in those who are overachievers and those who are not, I have seen that pure overachievers tend to rely too heavily on their overachieving strength. This then often ironically results in a failure to produce their desired attainment.

How is this possible? This happens because they have failed to recognize that similar to a recipe, there are multiple ingredients which when combined properly make the end result more desirable. So, are there certain characteristics which can be either tapped into, or leveraged via others to help overachievers, and non-overachievers? In a word, yes.

Now, that I fully have your attention, you are probably wondering what they are? Luckily for most people, there isn’t one perfect combination of talents that will guarantee you success. Although referencing the recipe analogy, there are certain talents which provide a stronger and more sought-after outcome. Whether you possess some of the talents which will help you to obtain better end results from any of your pursuits, isn’t something we have a great deal of control of. However, like a chef, knowing which ingredients to pair with one another for a recipe is in fact the key to increasing your chances for success.

Below are some items to consider, and ideas for how to go about either amping up and combining your overachiever, or other skills to propel you towards having more successful outcomes. Keep in mind that not all successful outcomes result in a monetary payment, as there are plenty of forms of achievement which you can benefit from. Helping others would be at the top of my list.

  • Consider making a list of people in your life who have reached the apex of their career.
  • Queue up brief meetings with the people on your list and interview them about the path they took to get to where they are.
  • Evaluate the achievements you have attained, and assign them a value of 1-5 (5 being the top). Factor in how much this achievement has made a difference in your life, or the lives of others. Potentially you have two columns, as the ratings might be different.
  • If you are not a strong communicator, partnering with someone who is, could make the difference to helping you to take your achievements to a higher level. Why? Because they can help to serve as an “unofficial” public relations person for you. Or, they can provide you with insight into how to go about doing this yourself.
  • What other skills do you have which have contributed the most to allowing you to achieve your attainments? Place the “other type” of skills next to, or add a third column to your achievements attained list.
  • Has being an overachiever ever resulted in a negative or less than desirable outcome? Sometimes overachievers go to extremes, and this can cost them their health and loss of relationships.

Working towards striking a balance when you are an overachiever is critical. Finding others with skills such as consistency, discipline and someone who can help you to strategically have a peripheral view of what you are working towards, will also be beneficial in harnessing the negative aspects of overachievement. Keeping your overachiever in the positively productive focused zone is ideally where you want to be. Now go make this happen.

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