High Achievers, Traps, Fulfillment

8 Behaviours of High Achievers, the Traps, and Finding Fulfillment

awesome at any age emotional intelligence - self actualization emotional intelligence - self regard fullfillment after 60 self-leadership Aug 19, 2022

There are certain behaviours of high achievers that are common among high-performing women. While these behaviours can help women to achieve great things in their personal and professional lives, the behaviours can also lead to traps if not handled correctly. The consequences can sabotage a woman's efforts in finding fulfillment in her 60s and beyond, In this blog post, we'll explore eight of the most common behaviours exhibited by high-performing women and discuss how you can avoid the traps.

Paradoxically, the very strengths that guided you to and through the fast track in work and life can steer you toward lacklustre performance and exacerbate self-doubt and disappointment. 

Managing the Paradox and Finding Fulfillment

High performers exhibit eight typical behaviors, according to Thomas J. Dejong, Professor of Management Practice and his daughter, Sara DeLong, Psychiatrist. I have added a few points related to what I have observed from working with high performers, also known as achievers. 

  1. Driven to achieve results: Achievers don’t let anything get in the way of goal completion - especially goals imposed by their work. They can become so caught up in tasks that colleagues and other significant people in their lives (including themselves) get pushed aside. Transparency or helping others feels like a waste of valuable time. They interpret emotional intelligence in the old command and control management framework and mantra that "emotions have no place in the workplace".
  2. Doers: Because nobody can do "it" as well or as quickly as they can, they drift into poor delegation. They manage rather than lead; or worse, they micromanage.
  3. Highly motivated: Achievers take their work seriously, but fail to recognize the difference between what is urgent and what is important—a potential path to burnout. They rush through decision-making with low impulse control and little time and patience for reality-testing. This often leaves creativity and quality in the wake in favour of "get-it-done".
  4. Addicted to positive feedback: Achievers care how others perceive them and their work. They tend to minimize, trivialize, or totally ignore positive feedback and compliments. They do, however, obsess and ruminate over criticism. Their personal brand is diminished as they appear needy for continuous external reinforcement. Their addiction to positive feedback can be high-maintenance in their interpersonal relationships.
  5. Competitive: Being competitive can be valued as an admirable strength. However, achievers can go overboard with competitive drive at work. Ironically, they alienate collaborators and become high-maintenance in their interpersonal relationships. The double-whammy is the compounded negative impact on their own self-regard as they obsessively compare themselves to others. This behaviour leads to a chronic sense of insufficiency, false calibrations and adjustment, and personal and professional missteps.
  6. Passionate about work: Achievers feed on the highs of their success at work and are extremely vulnerable to the crippling lows. Along with their addiction to positive feedback (#4), they are likely to devote more energy and attention to what’s lacking (the negative), rather than what’s abundant (the positive). Being passionate about work can also affect their ability to find fulfilment after work as they suffer from the perceived loss of status.
  7. Safe risk-takers: Because high performers are so driven to achieve results and passionate about success, they are likely to shy away from risk and the unknown. Or, they may not develop the ability to assess risk appropriately in their decision-making process. They are often resistant to wander from their "comfort zone" and explore what's possible.
  8. Guilt-ridden: No matter how much they accomplish, achievers can be very tough on themselves, believing that who they are and what they achieve is never acceptable or never enough. They crave more and better. Ironically, when they do complete a milestone, they don't take the time to savour the moment and recognize their achievement. They expect to be successful and hence, they deny themselves the chance to fully appreciate the joy of achievement.

What do you think about these traps? Do you recognize these behaviours in yourself? If so, are you able to appreciate the traps and are you ready to address these behaviours and traps in a plan to transform the “High Achiever” behaviours with the exploration of emotional intelligence to find fulfillment.

References and Resources:

The Paradox of Excellence (HBR, June 2011), Thomas J. and Sara DeLong   

Virtual Books@Baker with Professor Thomas J. DeLong, Harvard Business School 2021 (YouTube)

Teaching by Heart: One Professor’s Journey to Inspire, Thomas J. DeLong, January 2020

For references and resources connecting Interpersonal Relationships with Happiness, invest in your own copy of The EQ Edge - Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, Steven J. Stein, PH.D. and Howard E. Book M.D.

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