A tech leader, let’s call him Jason, said, “I can’t relax; I always have to do something useful. Nobody makes me do so; it’s me. This is how I am”. Jason is not alone. Many of us have such hyper achievers in us, pushing us to do more. This trait may have helped us be where we are, yet its overuse can cause more harm than good.
Growing up, we all developed different traits that kept us safe, got us what we needed, and helped us succeed. Other than the hyper-achiever, there are several additional traits: pleaser, perfectionist, and victim, to name a few. My top two are hyper-achiever and pleaser. Psychologists Hal and Sidra Stone call them “multiple selves” within ourselves: These selves, parts, or sub-personas determine how you see the world, control your behavior, and limit your choices. As a result, most of us live a much smaller life than necessary. Shirzad Chamine, the proponent of positive intelligence (PQ), calls them saboteurs.
Jason’s hyper-achiever gave him guilt if he tried to relax a bit. But now in his mid-forties, he noticed that the go-go mode was not sustainable and hurt his important relationships and overall wellbeing.
Through coaching (I used the voice dialog process), Jason became aware that the hyper-achiever was not the whole of him; it was one of his oldest dominant parts. He was so used to this part that he couldn’t hear the voice of the easy-going part that wanted to play some music and have fun with friends. During the several months Jason and I worked on this, he eventually learned to treat those parts as a team member instead of letting the loudest voice run the show. Regular mindfulness practice helped him sustain the new mindset. It allowed him to be more thoughtful in his day-to-day work. Instead of continuously seeking validation from saving-the-day activities, he focused on meaningful ways to contribute to his team and colleagues. It included mentoring, coaching, high-level strategic tasks, and less busy work. He started feeling more accomplished while his days became less chaotic.
Jason recently took a quick getaway with his family. He told me that he was more present this time and enjoyed it more, and his wife was also pleasantly surprised to see the change in him.
Our performance-driven, do more, achieve more culture is a perfect breeding ground for our inner hyper-achievers. Growing up, we are conditioned to fit in, get good grades, and perform to be liked and accepted. If you are reading this, there is a chance that your inner hyper-achiever is a dominant part of you. It’s time you have an honest conversation with them.
The featured image is from Pixabay