I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a high performer. I’m in that category and it has been an extremely beneficial character trait, but also a character flaw. I’ll take the good with the bad and downright ugly, after all, it’s what makes me, me. And you, you.

There is a dark side though, pieces that don’t often get said out loud. That’s what I’m writing about here. Not just the downside of high performance but the dark side…including the lies we tell ourselves and the truth on the other side.


I came across this great article on Medium: How to Finally Be Enough: A Guide for High Achievers Battling Anxiety.

Anxiety is a real thing for high achievers and you’re likely struggling in this area in some way whether you know it or not. I did not know it for a long while.

A favorite section of the article is below, the author described the relationship and cycle of high performance and anxiety simply:

  1. My achievements define my self-worth
  2. My fear and anxiety force me to achieve
  3. Without my fear and anxiety, I might lose the drive to achieve
  4. Achieving worth is too important — I must stay anxious in order to protect my worth

Here’s what I know that you may not yet – you are insatiate by the success you are achieving – and you can’t quite put your finger on why so you keep looking outward to fill a what’s missing inside of you. Hint: nothing is missing, it’s there, you just need to unlock it.

{Truth} You’re never going to fill that hole by achieving outward

{Lie} If you just accomplish this one next “thing” you will be happy

And if you’re not yet exhausted by this pattern, I promise you it’s in the mail. Your  insatiable addiction to achieve is fueled by overworking and that is not sustainable.


You’re telling yourself a big fat lie day in and day out; happiness is not right around the corner. You’re looking very successful on the outside, but feeling unsuccessful on the inside. The challenge for high performers like you and me is that it feels impossible to say this out loud.

People around you envy your picture perfect life and may only receive your feeling this way as simply ridiculous. Stop complaining. You’ve got a great life. This will be compounded by the fact that you struggle to articulate exactly what the problem is because you yourself can’t quite put your finger on it.

So how do you articulate it? How do you put your finger on it? There is no article or program or course I can point you to, it’s individual to you. We are complex puzzles called human beings and it takes a bit of internal work and unraveling to unlock what is inside of you. If you are seeking a change and ready to do the inner work, let’s have a chat to see if I can help.

I can share one thing that has elevated my level of daily happiness. PRESENCE.

Practicing presence each and every day. Journal. Meditate. Express gratitude. My favorite teacher in this area is Eckhart Tolle. Checkout this video for how to practice presence in your life and watch your level of happiness climb.

{Truth} You have everything you need right now to feel happy in your life

{Lie} You are a failure in life and business since you can’t get to the next level of achievement

One more thing, if you do watch the video with Eckhart, you’ll notice how slow he moves and speaks. Resist your temptation to skip ahead and practice presence with him instead. :O)


Are you highly competitive? Do you love to win? Me too. Actually I hate losing more than I love to win. So if I can’t win I don’t like to play and I know that’s true for you too.

If you know you can’t win, you retreat.

>> Think about that for a minute <<

You actually retreat whether you realize it or not. You don’t act when you do not know. Let’s get real on how this is holding you back in every area of your life.

You don’t…

  • Apply for the job you really want for fear you will not get it
  • Challenge the thinking in the room for fear of sounding stupid or not having the correct information or answer
  • Tell your partner or spouse how you’re feeling because you’re not 100% positive what exactly the problem is

{Truth} Your true brilliance lies in the unknown.

{Lie} If you don’t win, if you’re not right, then you are worthless.

Most high performers stay in the safe zone. Go through life bored, achieving but not working to their true potential for fear and anxiety they will be found out as worthless. And if you’re lucky there will be a nagging little voice telling you something is off. And if you’re really lucky, you won’t wait years and years to do something about it.


  • Michelle McGlade

    MBA, MAc, LAc

    Authentic Self Leadership | Executive Success Coach | Business Growth Expert | Advisor to Dissatisfied High Achievers There’s a stress and burnout epidemic out there and people deeply want to change their approach in work and life. We’re taught to work hard at all costs. I saw it, too. My parents plan for me: go to college, work hard, get a good job. Working hard was my first strategy for success. I worked myself to the bone, and while I looked wildly successful on the outside, I felt unsuccessful inside. I saw the cycle, but couldn’t identify why it was happening, let alone how to fix it. Recently, I recommitted to my success, except now I focus on feeling wildly successful inside despite external appearances. I learned leadership is an inside-out game; when connected and present with myself, outward success came naturally. This work led me here but also work with my clients; high achievers like you and me. We’re not the type to share our struggles, we need a trusted advisor and safe place to let our journey unfold. That’s where I come in. I help high achievers who feel like something’s missing to discover the missing pieces, to feel successful and whole. We’ll determine why: • you feel bored despite success • your professional relationships thrive yet your personal ones don’t • others envy your ”perfect” life but you can’t feel good about it Let’s move you into your zone of genius without getting too “woo.” When working on inner leadership, it’s not about going soft, it’s about how much more power you bring that produces results in life and work. My clients helped me discover this approach. As a consultant, I’d assess their business and team, identify gaps and present solutions. But true transformation occurred when we’d work on the inward game of leadership. THAT is true coaching. I ask hard questions, provide tough love, and say what no one else will say to you. We go deep on what makes you, you. Working hard isn’t the only key to success, it’s about our emotional fitness. The success you seek and happiness you desire is an inside-out game. Let me show you how.