How being an overachiever can lead to serious long-term misery and simple steps to become a high performer

Are you an overachiever or a high performer? Throughout my coaching experience I have coached many hardworking clients who have come to me because they are working long hours, are anxious and stressed about the future and unbalanced. In a recent article I was recently asked what the difference between an overachiever and a high performer was and to give tips on how to transition from the unhealthy role of an overachiever to the more healthy and rewarding role of a high performer.

Before I delve into some detail about the traits of an overachiever through a set of questions, it is important to sumarise the key aspects of the high performer. These people understand that the process is just as important as the result. They are the ones who nurture the people around them and build up businesses. The journey becomes the vital component in ensuring true long term success. So as you can see it is very healthy and fruitful to become a high performer, but why is it so unhealthy to be an overachiever?

Q) In your opinion what qualities or characteristics set overachievers apart from the rest?

  • They are future focused, constantly worrying about what the future holds rather than enjoying the present and the journey itself.
  • They are perfectionists, going above and beyond on each and every task they do.
  • Work long hours, doing more of the work that people would stay away from.
  • They hate failure or fear it and if they fail they view it as a slight on themselves.
  • They secretly have a lot of self doubt, thinking they are not good enough.
  • They seek love and approval through external ways. They will work harder than everyone else and do more on a task because they think it equates to love. By working hard people will love them more.

Q) Do you think that once a person starts doing well in a certain field there is a certain pressure to continue to excel? Both internally and externally?

  • Yes if you start very well and set high (unrealistic) expectations to start with you will be putting pressure on yourself and facing pressure from others to maintain or even surpass that level. Raise the bar too soon and you are expected to keep growing and pushing on, sometimes to an unrealistic level. I believe slow and steady wins the race and it is better for long term emotional health. Pick and choosing what to excel or work even harder on is key. The bosses will give more work and praise lots. You may come addicted to the validation that you associate with praise, feeling love and respect comes from working harder and getting praised. You will then search for more to do and say yes to things you should not be doing and that others don’t want to do.

Q) Tell me about that internal pressure — how can it take a toll on a person?

  • It can lead to that person becoming stressed and exhausted. All the long hours to get ahead of the game and doing work to ‘perfection’ – editing it, improving it and never quite thinking it will be good enough. It may lead to you not sleeping that much or have interrupted sleep as your brain is engaged and active.
  • The never-ending competition with yourself and others will inevitably take its strain. Overachievers view failure more as a personal reflection on themselves and it will eat them up inside, whereas a high performer is more likely to embrace failure as part of the journey to ultimate goals. Rather than fear it and stay in the comfort zone they seek challenges and the growth that comes from that.

Q) Can it lead to an early burnout?

  • Yes over achievers tend to be unbalanced. They tend to sacrifice their social life for a perfectionist life duly working on everything they are given regardless of the value it adds.
  • They will feel resentment in long term and quickly burn out. If you imagine spinning lots of plates at once, eventually you will become tired and drop them.

Q) What can over achievers start to do to handle the internal pressure?

  • They can set a realistic time limit on their decisions and tasks and stick to it as best as they can. Flawlessness and perfection is impossible, in fact it’s the enemy of good. Yes its ok to do over and above for some things but not everything. Pick over and above for the high value tasks.
  • Start to do less important things imperfectly – set a certain time for those tasks and do the best job within that time slot. Then assign more time for the high priority, bigger, and most valuable tasks.
  • Think about your work duties and strengths and take a moment to ask yourself the following things:
    “Is this something I’m expected to do within my job role?”
    “Is this something I enjoy and have a strength for doing?”
    If yes…
    “How will it benefit me or the company if I do it?”
    “What is the value added of doing this job?”
  • Focus on work that adds value not putting excessive work into things anybody can do and becoming a busy bee. Anybody work does not get you the promotion.
  • Know when to wait, when to attack, how to sacrifice, and when to change direction.
  • Take a moment to meditate daily (headspace app) so you are in the present instead of angry/upset about past and being anxious or worried about the future.

Q) What can over achievers do to handle the external pressure? (from parents/ friends/ teachers or colleagues if they’re working)

  • Communicate openly and honestly to manage expectations
  • Learn to say no on occasions to work that does not add value.
  • Take time out to strategies and target the value added / most important task first.
  • Listen to your own self-talk and be more loving towards yourself. Your words and thoughts are more valuable than others.
  • Take time out for self (life balance). Make your health (physical and emotionally) the most important priority.
  • Start meditation. Try first with Headspace – a free app to get you into the present frame of mind for 10-15 minutes a day. Remember you don’t need to be great at it, do your best and know you will improve. Know that great things take time and commitment.
  • Learn to take off the mask and put the ego aside. Practise being your transparent, authentic and honest self.

Q) What should all overachievers keep in mind in order to transition into high performers (achievers)?

  • It is so important to remember that the joy is in the journey itself and not purely on the outcome. Success or failure is simply feedback and learning that will help your future growth.
  • Life is about taking risks and sometimes failing. It is how you will ultimately grow. Good and great things come outside the comfort (dying) zone and on the other end of fear are the challenges you need to grow.
  • Choose tasks that will quicken your growth, that are a struggle, yet add great value. You cannot win and be great at everything. Pick and select what you will do and what you will work over and above at.
  • You feeling of love do not come from someone else praise on the tasks you do. It comes from inside of you. Work on loving yourself regardless. Get in the habit of talking positively about yourself and your worth.
  • Differentiate between the image you project and the real person you are. As an overachiever, you are tempted by the trappings of success because they are proof that, “You won the game.” At least this one. You feeling of love do not come from someone else praise on the tasks you do. It comes from inside of you. Work on loving yourself regardless. Get in the habit of getting self recognition (talking positively about yourself and your worth) rather than external recognition
  • Start to say no to unrealistic expectation from others and most importantly from yourself.

You become what you surround yourself with

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”
– Jim Rohn


A great mentor, coach and friend here in Dubai reminded me of this powerful quote of Jim Rohn recently and it has stuck in my head ever since. It is so simple and yet so true, and when I look back at my days as a teacher, I can see how this adage had directly translated into my pupils, even those as young as 10 years old.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”
– Jim Rohn

A great mentor, coach and friend here in Dubai reminded me of this powerful quote of Jim Rohn recently and it has stuck in my head ever since. It is so simple and yet so true, and when I look back at my days as a teacher, I can see how this adage had directly translated into my pupils, even those as young as 10 years old.

Typically, the unruly children who challenged authority and who felt it was not cool to concentrate on their studies would all hang out together, whilst the diligent children who respected authority and the opportunities their scholastic success would bring, gathered together to work the hard and listen attentively in class. Think back to your childhood, I’m sure this was true in your school too.

This pack mentality begins the moment we are born. We are natural copiers, acquiring characteristics from our earliest influences and continuing to absorb traits for our entire lives. Similarly to my reflections of the school yard, I can reminisce on the spectrum of jobs I have held over the years, the mixed teams I have worked in and the colleagues I have found myself spending the most time with. Typically, I am generally a positive person, but when I started to spend time around people that felt disenfranchised by their jobs, held a weak work ethic or were generally pessimistic, this quickly started to infiltrate my psyche.

This moment of recognition was monumental in my life and I made a mental promise to myself, to always surround myself with a myriad of like-minded, successful and hard-working people who took pride in excelling.

Taking this powerful Jim Rohn quote one step further, you could say, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, the five books you last read and the five shows you last watched”, but quietly acknowledging that Game of Thrones is the most recent series that I’ve been consuming in abandon, I hope that there is some leeway in these assumptions.

In the spirit of sharing this Ramadan, here are some tools and learning updates from me to you, so you can bring your average up:


#1. Take time to evaluate your ‘Emotional Energy Bank.’

List the people in your life that you spend the most time with and assign a score from negative 100 to plus 100, supporting your score with evidence.
– Negative 100 signifies that they zap all of the energy from you, leaving you thoroughly drained and incapable of mustering any positivity.
– Plus 100 represents those individuals who exude positivity, a can-do attitude and boundless vitality for life, leaving you feeling completely energized, like you can achieve anything you put your mind too.

Zapper (-100) _______________________0_______________________Energiser (+100)

Once you have done that, identify the individual situations where you typically spend more time with the energizers or with the zappers, then make a concerted effort to only spend time in energizing situations with energizing people. You will be amazed how quickly doors will open for you, things will miraculously appear to go your way and you will leave the zappers long behind.

#2. Avidly focus on individuals who inspire and mentor you:

I have always made it one of my success rituals to spend quality time with people who I admire and can learn from. Even if it is only a single dinner, or a five-minute chat over a green tea, these moments are gold-dust. It doesn’t even have to be someone that you know personally.

Identify the areas of mastery that you want to manifest in your life and seek out those who are already masterful in these areas. Read the books they read, practice the habits they exhort and meditate on their pillars of success. They have already done the hard work for you.

Kevin Spacey famously said, ‘if you are lucky enough to do well, then it is your duty to send the elevator back down.’

Every truly successful person will recognize all those who have helped them reach where they are today and will be happy to help others on their journey. The internet makes things even easier for you by giving you direct access to the most accomplished people in the world. It’s your duty to tune into them, even if it is only a five minute YouTube video in the morning as you brush your teeth, or some of the motivational videos we share on the UAE Coaching Facebook page. Luckily for me as a coach, I get to regularly meet with like-minded coaches and clients.

So what are you waiting for? Take five minutes and list at least one person who inspires you in each of the prime areas in your life. Fitness, family, friends, intimate relationships, learning and hobbies, are all key areas that will benefit from your attention. You will probably be able to think of more, and it is personal to each of us. Create a mental or physical list of positive influencers that you can refer to and consciously realign your intentions when you feel you are going off-track.

List their name, their role, why they inspire you, and commit yourself to a time and place that you will set aside specially to learn from them.

Mish – Professional – Inspiring entrepreneur- Saturday 12-2pm dinner
Linda – Personal – Positive about relationships- Tuesday 7-9pm green tea

#3. Garbage in garbage out. Your media consumption is crucial to success:

We are exposed to a maelstrom of content on a daily basis, from the very moment we open our eyes, roll over and look at the newsfeeds on our mobile phones. You can be easily sucked-in to watching some irrelevant reality TV show, featuring people that you would not like to be, or reading negative, inflammatory news that immediately distracts you from your core purpose. You have to be fastidious about the types of material that you are exposing yourself to, because like the people you surround yourself with, it will quickly alter the quality of your thinking.

I will make it a morning ritual to read The Greatness Guide by Robin Sharma to discover some simple, effective strategies that ensure my personal and professional success. I am also dedicated to watching inspiring, transformational documentaries that transcend the everyday dumbing down that is synonymous with pop culture.

#4. Seek out the best in their field:

When you want to improve in something, the quickest and best way is to hire an expert in that field, or spend time in the company of someone with inexhaustible passion and dedication. I like to think of this as an investment (money and time) rather than a cost. The knowledge you get from this has multiplying effects and is the best way to get professional and personal success. I make it my business to seek out the best workshops, coach training organisations, personal trainers and corporate trainers here in Dubai. I know this is why I also attract some of the best coaching clients around, success attracts success.

I hope these 4 tips will help you grow both personally and professionally, rise in mastery and bring up your average. When you do this consistently, imagine the impact you will have on the world around you and the average of others.

5 Ways to Discover Your Passion and Choose To Live Life

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses…The gift is yours—it is an amazing journey—and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.” ~Bob Moawad

In this blog find 5 simple ways to take ownership of your life and your unique journey. Through reading this we can help support you in finding a career you are truly passionate about and that reflects your unique values and experiences.

1. Relax with “ME time”:

When we take the time to relax we are able to rediscover the best version of ourselves, which is most often when we find the answers we’ve been searching for. This might mean practicing yoga, going for daily walks, setting aside time each day to meditate and think through things or even write our thoughts and ideas in a journal. Taking time out to have your “ME time” allows you to quiet the outside voices and listen to yourself. When was the last time you took some time out and some of the above? Is anything more important than you?

2. Rewrite your story:

Every day we are telling ourselves stories about who we are, what we’re capable of, and what we deserve. If we can identify our self-limiting stories (I’m not good enough; I don’t deserve to be happy, etc.), then we can begin rewriting new stories that are grounded in confidence and courage, and map out actions that move us from one to the other.Would you want to read a negative ending in which you are the main character? No! Its time to go back to the happy ever after stories of our childhood and write one for yourself.

3. Own your uniqueness:

We are all here for a reason and we all have skills and qualities that when added together are unique to us. No one else has your unique blend of talents, strengths, skills, creativity and the past experiences that you have gone through and that have shaped you. We all have something great to offer, and learning to accept and own what makes you unique is crucial to sharing your gifts with the world. Would your swap the feelings of living one day doing what you most want compared to 10 years of something you hate!

4. Discover and understand your patterns:

It is so important to take time to reflect on the past experiences so that you can learn from them for the future. Were there recurring patterns in your career to date that triggers the emotions of unfulfilment and disillusionment you are feeling right now? What are you magnetized to again and again? What areas of life do you attract that seem to be full of discomfort and pain? What of your career in the past bought happiness?

5. Push past fear and see the journey ahead as fun:

Now is the right time. Time is finite and so it is important to make the most of each second. It is never to late to find your calling and be fulfilled in your personal life and career life. You must identify the excuses that you are and will make as decisions over career or relationships become closer as masks for our fear. Some excuses are listed below:

Excuses About Time
1. I’m too busy to do what I love.
2. I don’t have time to discover what I’m passionate about.
3. I’ve already put a lot of time into a different path.
4. I’ll do it—someday.
5. It’s too late for me now.
Excuses About Money
6. I don’t have the money to get started.
7. I need to continue earning exactly what I earn now.
8. I can’t make any changes until I pay off my debt.
9. I need a bigger safety net before I take a risk.
10. What if I can’t make any money at it?
Excuses About Knowledge
11. I don’t know where to start.
12. I don’t know enough to start.
13. I’m not smart enough to succeed.
14. I don’t know if I can make it.
15. I’m not an expert.
Excuses About Other People
16. My friends and family don’t think I can do this.
17. My friends and family don’t think I should do this.
18. I need to focus on the people who need me.
19. I don’t have anyone to do this with.
20. It’s all about who you know—and I don’t know the right people.
Excuses About Probability
21. Things likely wouldn’t pan out.
22. Many people have tried to do this and failed.
23. I’ll probably be scared and uncomfortable if I try.
24. I’m not sure if this is the “right” decision.
25. There aren’t any guarantees.

As leading coaches we will share with you the amazing OAR v BED tool that will blow these excuses out of your vocabulary.
It’s only when we get clear on our fears and recognise how they are preventing us from moving to a better life and to being a better person that we can truly feel alive again. When we help you discover a career doing something you are passionate about you will never feel like you are working again.

Recommended Book:

The monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma.

Question:

Is NOW the best time for you to get the career and personal life that you deserve?
Click here to find out more about our personal life and development coaching services or email info@localhost to book a  FREE consultation.