Quick Bytes: Hidden Demons of High Achievers

I love podcasts – I wrote A Guide to Podcasts and recommended some podcasts for food lovers, tech lovers, and everyday listening. I even run my own all-Italy podcast called Eye on Italy.

One of my favorite podcasts is the Harvard Business Review IdeaCast – ideas for leadership, business, economics, and all-around smart and concise topics. Most episodes aren’t longer than 15 minutes.

I encourage you to look through their archives of past episodes that you can listen to right from your browser or iTunes.

The latest episode was called “The Hidden Demons of High Achievers” with Tom DeLong, Harvard Business School professor and author of “Flying Without a Net: Turn Fear of Change into Fuel for Success” about people who feel a high need to achieve and how their fear of losing their image of competence can lead them to putting too much emphasis on succeeding the first time.

I don’t consider myself a high achiever but definitely an achiever and some of the behavior he described struck some chords within me, such as:

“…no matter what they’re doing they feel like they should be doing something else, so it gets very difficult to concentrate.”

In addition there was discussion about some traits / personality of high achievers:

  • success is only defined in terms of how well you’re doing when compared to others
  • the same strengths that helped you achieve can become weaknesses
  • over time they don’t realize their ambition and need to achieve can become an addiction
  • blaming others for reasons of not achieving and avoiding looking inside to improve
  • focus on a task, forgetting about relationships and the human capital / long-term goals
  • how to differentiate between urgent and important.

I’m interested now in checking out this book, and definitely check out the Harvard Business Review IdeaCast.

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Director of Product Marketing @ HubSpot. Early hire @ Automattic / WordPress.com. Founder World Nutella Day. MBA Alumni Advisory Board @ Santa Clara University.

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