Have you noticed a trend? I have been introducing one of the mental saboteurs in the Positive Intelligence model in these weekly installments, by writing about each in the context of what I hope will be relevant and helpful for you. If you missed the previous weeks, you can catch up here.
January 5 I wrote about your Judge “Why you do not achieve your New Year resolutions”
January 19 I wrote about your Avoider “Why you avoid what you avoid”
January 26 I wrote about your Controller “Faults of the President – do you have them too?”
This week I’m introducing to you an old nemesis of mine: the Hyper-Achiever. If you’ve ever called yourself (or been called) Type A. If your drive for success sometimes leaves a wake of destruction in its path. Or if you’ve ever known someone who wants to win at all costs and will bulldoze anything or anyone in their path to do so. If you’ve ever thought to yourself “I don’t have time for emotions. I have work to do!” If you’ve ever been afraid to get too close to someone, worried they might realize you’re not as perfect as the image you portray. If so, then you’ll want to read on to learn more about the characteristics and lies of Hyper-Achiever so you can stop it in its tracks.
As I shared last week, a saboteur is the price you pay for the overuse and abuse of your greatest strengths. For myself and for most of my highly educated, high-achieving clients, those strengths are as follows:
- Being driven, goal-oriented, and self-directed
- Also pragmatic and adaptable
- Capable of growing self and others to achieve their full potential
- When inner-directed, can be great at inspiring self and others towards meaningful growth and achievement
Yes, these are fantastic strengths. But, it’s important to be aware that there is a dark side of your strengths – the saboteur side. When you use these strengths too often, in the wrong situations, with the wrong people, at the wrong time, those strengths come back to harm you and those around you.
The harmful side of any saboteur motivates you through negative emotions and most often accompany periods of stress and anxiety. In this case, the Hyper-Achiever saboteur is “dependent on constant performance and achievement for self-respect and self-validation.”* The Hyper-achiever is also so “highly focused on external success that it leads to unsustainable workaholic tendencies and loss of touch with deeper emotional and relationship needs.”*
How can you catch the negative side of the Hyper-Achiever when it takes hold of you? Read each of the descriptions below so that you will know when the Hyper-Achiever in you is taking over. Building awareness of its characteristics, thoughts and justification lies will give you the ammunition you need to stop it in its tracks.
Characteristics of the Hyper-Achiever Saboteur: What to Watch Out For
- Competitive, as well as image and status conscious
- Goal-oriented, with a workaholic streak
- Good at covering up insecurities and often falsely showing a positive image
- Like a shape shifter, it adapts its personality to fit what would be most impressive to another
- More into perfecting public image than introspection
- Can be self-promoting
- Can keep people at safe distance
Ouch! It can be painful to look at this list and realize you are partially (if not fully) looking at yourself in the mirror. But the good news is you are reading about this now, so you build that awareness and catch it before it does more damage to you and those around you.
Thoughts of the Hyper-Achiever: What to Listen For in Your Head
- “I must be best at what I do.”
- “If I can’t be outstanding, I won’t bother.”
- “Anything I do must be efficient and effective.”
- “Emotions just get in the way of getting the job done. Instead, focus on thinking and taking action.”
- “I can be anything I want to be.”
- “I am worthy as long as I am successful and others think well of me.”
Justification Lies of the Hyper-Achiever saboteur: What Out for These!
- “Life is about achieving and producing results. Anything else is not worthwhile.”
- “Portraying a good image helps me achieve results.”
- “Feelings are just a distraction and don’t help anything.”
As you read over the above thoughts and justification lies of this saboteur, did you think of anyone you’ve ever worked with or worked for? Maybe you cringed as you thought “oh, wow, that is me.” Here’s the reality of this: all of us have saboteurs. Whether or not the Hyper-Achiever is one of your strongest saboteurs is another question. Once you identify the nastiest of the saboteurs that betray you in the hidden world of your mind, then you can take the steps to weaken its influence on you and reclaim the positive strength side without the sabotage. To confirm just how strong your own Hyper-Achiever is, take the free assessment and meet with me to diagnose its impact on you.
Why is it important to weaken the negative effects of the Hyper-Achiever?
Look at the impact it has on you and others:
- Any peace and happiness you may experience from burning the midnight oil is fleeting and short-lived in brief celebrations of achievement.
- Self-acceptance is continuously conditioned on the next success, so you are never satisfied.
- You lose touch with deeper feelings, are disconnected from your deeper self, and struggle to connect deeply with others.
- Others on your team (and even members of your household) might be pulled into the performance vortex of the Hyper-Achiever and become similarly lopsided in their focus on external achievement.
When you have shifted out of saboteur mode and are operating from what is called the Sage brain, you are amazing! The energy and excitement you feel for reaching a goal becomes infectious, inviting others in to voluntarily partner with you to reach for greater achievements – rather than bulldozing them as you barrel through them on your way to the prize. When you are in Sage mode, you perform at your highest level, focusing more on quality than on false deadlines. You interact positively and productively with key people at work and at home, building and strengthening relationships that will support you for the long-run. You no longer fear trying something new, and experience great joy from innovating and experimenting, as you’re open to failing and learning over and over along the way. In addition, when the negative influence of the Hyper-Achiever is diminished, you even experience better quality health – physically, emotionally, and mentally – because you’re not feeling the same levels of stress and anxiety.
My own Hyper-Achiever has pushed me to limits that exceeded what my body could withstand: it put me in the hospital in high school, it gave me minor anxiety attacks in my consulting days, it causes me to get stress-induced illnesses year after year, all until I woke up to the damage it was doing. It has also prevented me from going deeper and developing more meaningful relationships. The lie my Hyper-Achiever told me was that I could not share all of who I was or reveal my weaknesses because then others would not want to me to keep working with them. So many lies!
I’m grateful my Hyper-Achiever is so much weaker now, and I want this for you too. Work is so much more meaningful when there can be creativity and play, experimentation and failure. Relationships are so much more rewarding when you both can share your best qualities and your faults – it makes you more relatable and human. And life is so much more enjoyable when you’re not stressed out all the time, worrying about how you can out-perform everyone and always be the best.
Don’t you want to know how strong the Hyper-Achiever saboteur is in you? Yes, you do! Wouldn’t it be life-changing to learn how you can take practical, tactical steps to weaken its influence on you? Yes, it is! So, why wait? I invite you to meet with me for a Saboteur Diagnosis session.
*Source: Shirzad Chamine and his Positive Intelligence mental fitness model. Erin is in the process of competing her certification with Shirzad and his team.