The Raw Truths of a Conscious High Achiever
Updated: Jul 5
“Stop and smell the roses” is something I have heard often in my life, and that statement used to annoy me like no other. I once believed that whoever said that to me didn’t understand me, and therefore I blocked these types of statements from my scope of awareness. There was a time when I thought stopping was for the weak and unhappy, unsuccessful people. How wrong I was!
Let’s define what a high achiever really is. It is someone who is driven to win, at all costs, solely focused on the goal and/or vision and being prepared for anything that will get in the way of their success. They are usually more action-oriented, as opposed to being over-thinkers, and are always busy. They almost always have the belief that working more and working harder is key to success, but this strategy is not conducive to achieving happiness. High achievers are goal achievers, which typically defines success, yet the question remains: Why do high achievers struggle with finding happiness or fulfilment?
Success is defined by a state of mind and being. Today I understand that. Financial success is only one of four key measures as to how successful one feels in life, albeit a very important one; however, there are three other measures: the quality of your health, spirituality, and love and relationships.
While high achievers have many great qualities, like everything that is great, there is an equally contrasting not so great side as well. BALANCE is key to a high achiever winning in all aspects of life, including love and relationships with deeper, more meaningful connections with other people, and also with self. In the chart below, I show how the positive qualities of a high achiever can lead to the associated negative behaviours if not balanced by the spiritual work needed to be a conscious high achiever.
As a high achiever who has set out to achieve every personal and professional goal I set for myself, like many people I have coached and worked with, my greatest struggle has been a deep loneliness perpetuated by the misperception that the only person who can make things happen for me is me. Many people have crossed my path, but because I move so fast, I have changed friends and connections frequently. Now is that really a bad thing? No, it isn’t – until we get ourselves trapped in the Insanity Loop or perpetually-turning hamster wheel, leading us to feel empty because of an overextended period of purposeless action.
When I finally pressed my foot on the brake to re-evaluate WHY I was doing all I was doing, my most profound realization was that I never took the time to listen to my heart. My heart had different thoughts than my thinking mind. When I focused on my heart, which can only be tapped into when we actually stop and be present in the here and now, I realized that I wanted it ALL in life, including health, financial freedom, kickass career and, best of all, yes, LOVE.
That moment was over 20 years ago. Today, I am still that high achiever with all the same great and not-so-great qualities, but they are all dancing in harmony now. Here are some of the important practices I implemented to achieve the have-it-ALL goal and to win in life:
1. Conscious leadership
Learning to work with others meant learning to be an active listener. Conscious leaders have great people skills because they are always striving for win-win outcomes for all involved. When high achievers consciously lead, they earn respect from everyone and their high level of integrity enables them to enjoy the most meaningful and trust relationships.
We struggle with impatience and frustrations when results don’t show up as planned or expected. Learning to be mindful teaches high achievers how to move away from control and work with the natural flow of the process towards goal achievement. This is where we learn to listen to our heart, where our truth lives. It’s a choice whether we grind our way to our goal or move towards it with ease and grace. Check out my other article The 5 ways high achievers can win in life.
One of the greatest qualities of high achievers is that they are highly action and goals oriented, which means they make things happen with a laser-focused work ethic. But that can leave them taking on too much because others can’t follow their way of operating. Rather than judging those people who work differently as incompetent, high achievers need to learn compassion for others. It starts with practicing self-compassion. Reframing failure to be more a journey to learning rather than a negative experience is key.
When we are constantly in need of more, we fall prey to perpetually chasing, rather than actually experiencing, happiness and contentment. Connecting with the present moment is critical to bringing meaning and purpose to what we do and why we do it. Achieving a sense of fulfilment with their successes is a major challenge for high achievers, because the concept of more is infinite, and therefore can never be enough. We mustn’t focus too much on what we don’t have or haven’t achieved yet. By implementing the practice of gratitude in daily life, you will be able to appreciate and celebrate all the little wins that give meaning and purpose to why we wake up every day.
Last but not least, a deep understanding of how to be vulnerable is critical for personal growth. More so, it brings people together on a deeper level, enhancing connections. High achievers generally have a misconception that vulnerability shows emotional and mental weakness. On the contrary, there are times that you need to ask for help, be honest that you don’t understand something, and admit that you make mistakes. By embracing vulnerability, you will build a deeper trust with others. The ideal value to embody here is to give generously and receive graciously.