Before super achievers can listen to themselves or others, they need to know how they got to be so exhausting, annoying, and demanding in the first place.
Here’s how the super-achiever pattern was addressed with a new coaching client, Dan, a Senior VP in a large marketing company that offers leadership development courses for senior executives.
He said this about himself, which much initial pride, “Hey, I always have to be front and center. I must get my way, or I become vindictive. I love applause and attention. And, just between the two of us, I deserve all the adulation.
However, I have lots of backstabbers on my team and a few nut cases who want to ‘take me down.’ They say all I do is talk about how great I am and how I make the best decisions and how glad they should be that I have them on my team.
BIG QUESTION: How did I ever become someone who needs everyone to think I’m great?
BIGGEST QUESTION: Is there a better way to be, at work and at home?
My Response: Dan and I were on zoom, and while he initially looked relaxed, the minute he talked about his team and the underlying concerns, he became tense and agitated.
BIG QUESTION was answered. He admitted, after some focused discussion, that he was programmed to be first in everything since he was a kid. His older brother was a mediocre student who started to ‘mess with drugs’ in middle school and by college, was a full-blown addict.
The family was financially successful, yet, emotionally bankrupt. Filled with deniers they would never admit there was an addict in the family. They just kept looking the other way,
And then, Dan began to explore what was really driving his behavior.
He was a senior in high school; his brother was going into his junior year in college and the bottom dropped out of the family. His brother over-dosed and died the day fall classes were to start.
Dan saw the pain at home (even though it was denied) and decided he would make up for all the sadness by becoming great, maybe even more than great, he would become the best.
Dan admitted that the word successful mattered more to him than the word happy.
He began to see where the determination came from to be best.
THE BIGGEST QUESTION took time for Dan to grapple with. He is in the process of learning the most appropriate ways to move from super-achiever to creative collaborator.
Now, he is revamping his life choices so that he doesn’t burn out and become an isolated man whose only friend is his mirror where he can look at himself and talk about what a great job he is doing.
He is looking at the fact that the attainment of wealth, position, and even fame can be included in his life purpose which now centers around having a team of high performers who also work well together.
He is on his way to a more complete and healthier life, personally and professionally. He’s crafting more honest sentences so when he talks, he doesn’t sound like an annoying braggart. He now uses ‘we’ and ‘us’ and less of ‘I.” More on the super-achiever can be found in Don’t Bring It To Work .
Take a few moments to watch this short video here to help you better understand the super achiever:
You don’t need to know the details, just know that there is some anxiety and upset that leads to the obsession of being best.
The way to get super-achievers to listen, is first, to acknowledge their abilities. Yes, tell them they are good or even great at what they do. Then ask them how you can support them. The word ‘support’ is key here. They can still be best, at least for now, as you help to design the strategy for collaboration.
Use the words ‘we’ and ‘us’ over and over. It’s a way of relating that takes time when with a super achiever. It is doable!
Once super achievers learn to include others, they gain entrance into a more rewarding world of heightened creativity and you can all join each other in that fabulous state described as ‘flow.’
To your continued growth,