When a powerful leader in the coaching community and someone I have a great deal of respect for pointed out to me that I was a high achiever I was in shock (and flattered)… “he can’t be referring to me” I said. I’ve felt inadequate and always striving for better, more, and ‘enough’ for what felt like my whole life!
I always felt that there was more I could or should be doing with myself. Learning, refining and studying – looking for a way to feel and be successful. Showing up as best I could and yet secretly feeling like a failure at everything and most times not even acknowledging my accomplishments. At times I didn’t even bother to show up powerfully at all. Preferring rather to stay hidden, fearing failure or worse… proof that indeed I was not ‘good enough’.
This, he explained was exactly what made me a high achiever. WHAT? But wait, how can this be? Slowly, looking over my life and beginning to understand the spectrum and often pendulum swing of high achievers, it all began to make sense to me. Does any of this sound like you?
Your life, to others seems super successful. You have achieved a lot and others admire what you’ve accomplished in many areas but you don’t really see it. It feels like it came easy to you and so you don’t deserve the admiration, like there are so many other amazing things you could or should be doing.
This was me, I have heard kudos my whole adult life about how confident, accomplished, well studied and adventurous I was to others, but inside I felt like they were just blowing smoke up my you-know-where.
I didn’t understand their point of view – I didn’t feel successful. Inside I felt hopelessly bored with my life, my job and myself. I compared myself to others and I secretly wanted more, but felt guilty and like I was reaching too far. There were so many times I just gave up on myself, thinking that I would never be able to accomplish anything of worth… to the point of not even allowing myself to dream a bigger dream.
I settled in many cases. Beating myself up. Not owning my worth, my talents and my value. Always feeling dissatisfied.
The feeling of ‘not being/doing enough’ is both what drives a high achiever and what holds them back simultaneously… WHAT? Oh yes you heard that right too! (This paraphrased from a conversation with one of my esteemed mentors, Rich Litvin – the author [among other things] of The Prosperous Coach and fellow expert in coaching high achievers).
When I first learned all of this it was like the first rush of fresh air after surfacing from having held my breath for so long. It actually allowed me to accept all my accomplishments up until that point and own my power, my journey and who I was. It also gave me wings to continue achieving at my own pace, and not in comparisons to others or someone else’s yardstick. All those years spent beating myself up about not being this or that, not having done or accomplished ‘anything of value’. I suddenly realized there was nothing wrong with me…
I am a high achiever!
Like a starving artist who has not been claimed by the art world, continually creating and never being acknowledged, so too does the high achiever suffer. It is not until they own their brand of greatness and allow themselves to be seen, discovered even, that they can find healthier more powerful ways to move forward, create and find the support to do so.
Reframing this in such a powerful way puts a new perspective on your life pursuits, your striving for self improvement and success. It allows for the space to work with your desires and dreams in a new light. Learning to find balance between achieving and receiving support is one of the keys to finding a greater level of fulfillment and freedom for the high achiever. Often these are the people that think they can go it alone and hesitate to ask or receive support.
A new perspective on how you click can and will empower you to the exact heights you wish to climb and your next big project. This powerful awarenesses can now act as a guide post letting you know when H.A.S (High Achiever Syndrome) has taken over. Before you head down the garden path into becoming absolutely frozen in perfectionism or exhaust yourself flying into a tailspin of ‘doing’; with some guidance and the right mentorship you can navigate the sea of self doubt and sometimes self flagellation to your next level of success and freedom.
If you identify at all with being a high achiever and desire support in harnessing your passion and desires into the fruition of a big goal or dream, I want to hear from you! Post your comments below and share this on social media with others.