What is a high achiever? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is “a person who is hardworking and successful.” This definition implies that your input creates your output. It would be best if you first were motivated, which will translate into investing tremendous effort, leading to your success.
However, many people work hard but are not successful, and there are those who are successful but perhaps do not work so hard. By its name, the term “high achiever” implies that the hard worker is achieving their goals. So we will focus more on the person as the “high aimer” because their mindset and efforts get translated into action and lead to their ultimate success.
Ambitious people often work very hard to attain their goals. They have an inner drive to prove themselves, succeed, and be recognized for their accomplishments. Many set the bar very high and will not settle for mediocrity. Even when everyone around them believes their work is exceptional, the high aimers may still not feel satisfied. That is indicative of a perfectionistic mindset.
If you are a perfectionist, you are not perfect. You want everything you do to be perfect. You may have unrelenting standards where you feel like nothing you do is good enough. This keeps you striving to do better, do more, and create the opposite effect of what you want.
Some of the biggest problems perfectionists face include a critical inner voice that tells them they are not good enough, a fear of failure, and a tendency toward procrastination. Perfectionists often have control issues and will overwork themselves doing everything themselves instead of asking for help. This trifecta is crucial to understanding what drives high aimers who are perfectionists and what can lead to burnout.
As a high achiever, remember you need support too. Being at the top is lonely, and it is challenging. You are human, and your humanness is what makes you great. Leaders often try to keep everything together around them and rarely reach out to the people who sincerely want to support them. We hold the flawed assumption that people will only respect us if we are invulnerable. We worry that we will lose respect if we show our humanity: failures, weaknesses, and emotions. Yet over the long haul, denying and hiding our society holds us back and undermines our ability to connect with people and get the support to create the changes we desire in our lives. It’s lonely for us, and it alienates the people who we need on our side. Often those around us can see when we are struggling, and they want to help. Let the people who love you be your rock as you transform your life and leadership to the next level. Expert vulnerability researcher Brené Brown shares, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
Time and time again, when I see leaders choose to open up to their friends, family, and colleagues and share their development goals, the first reaction they get is unwavering support. While it can feel vulnerable, this openness builds trust, connection, and accountability partners. The courage to share your vulnerabilities is a strength. It displays confidence in your relationships and your ability to learn from your experiences. It acknowledges that you are human and that the people around you are valued and essential to you. It demonstrates that you want their input and help. When you share with others, you will see that the people in your life will see you like strong, courageous, and a role model for actively focusing on your growth. It also creates permission for others to be open about their journey and development goals.
Sometimes we forget that no man (or woman) is an island. The misguided belief that it’s better to rely on our solitary strength is nothing less than a harmful delusion. Scratch the surface of any successful person’s life—no matter what field he’s in—and you’ll find the shadow of someone who offered inspiration or encouragement.
1. It’s OK to ask for help. While we all like to think of ourselves as being strong and independent and resourceful, sooner or later, living conditions will make us cry “uncle.” Admitting that you need help and then being level-headed enough to ask for it is a significant step on the road to self-empowerment. Too often, we let pride, confusion, and fear of losing face stand in the way of reaching out to those who can help us with our burdens and lend a helping hand toward reaching our goal. Just as there are no stupid questions, there is also no shame in asking for help.
2. It’s OK to accept help. If someone else cares enough about you to show an interest in your life (your dreams or your problems), and if they offer or agree to help you, accept their generosity graciously. Learning to receive—whether a compliment, a helpful introduction, or a generous gift—is an essential skill. At this stage of adulthood, reluctance or embarrassment needs to be replaced with genuine gratitude. When someone else has done something nice for you, the only thing you need to do is to say, “Thank You,” and remember their kindness.
3. Don’t re-invent the wheel. If you’re going to be a self-empowered person, you’re going to need to keep close tabs on both your time and your energy, and—for that reason—it makes sense to incorporate as much efficiency into your life as possible. This is where asking for and accepting help can make a difference.
4. Help is where you least expect it. Mentors, teachers, and supporters don’t walk around wearing sandwich boards that announce their willingness or ability to exert a positive impact on your life. You might have a neighbor or distant relative who knows someone with the knowledge and desire to help you or point you in the right direction. Still, if you are not on the lookout for guidance or a helping hand, you might overlook the very person who could serendipitously change your life forever.
5. Maybe now you can positively impact someone else’s life. Once you realize how important it is to be on the receiving end of other people’s interest and kindness, it will be easier for you to think of ways to be someone else’s supportive someone. Just because you’re not a celebrity or an award winner (yet) doesn’t mean that you don’t have the ability or skills to help someone else. Taking the time to lend a helping hand will assist others, and it may benefit you even more–what goes around comes around.
The presence of a community is always essential to be there for you in times of need, and they will be the ones you can look up to for support. Your community of people should be composed of those who genuinely care about your welfare. Life is tough, and you never know when challenges come your way, so having people who love you will keep you strong.