How We Lie To Ourselves About Striving For Excellence

by | Mar 22, 2022 | Thought Piece Series | 0 comments

Working really hard on the stretch goals you set. Achieving those goals and then onto the next one. You keep going, on and on.
It’s never-ending.
When will you get to enjoy it? When do you get to rest? When do you get to feel the benefits of all your hard work?

If the idea of stopping and enjoying your success freaks you out welcome to the club.

Are you striving for excellence or do you not know how to take a break?

I recently said “let yourself feel the benefits of where you’ve got to” to a client and they freaked out.
“What, actually stop working?
I’ve got some free hours and I shouldn’t fill them with work?
Oh my god, I’m getting a little short of breath.”

For us hyper-achievers it can be really hard to stop and enjoy our success. It’s uncomfortable. We’ve got this internal chatter telling us:
If you stop, you’ve given up.
You’ll never do anything again.
You’re wasting time. 
You could be doing something great, but you just gave it all away to do nothing.
Don’t you have any ambition?

If any of that sounds familiar, we need to talk.

We tell ourselves to work hard so that we can get the rewards. This is logical. This helps us take action towards our goals and helps us achieve them.

But what happens when we achieve our goals?
Do we enjoy our success?
Do we celebrate?
Do we take that hard-won break?

Hell no.
We give ourselves a new target, a new goal.

There’s always that next level to reach. And we need to reach it and THEN we can enjoy.

This is how we lie to ourselves about striving for excellence.

We tell ourselves that we just need to do one more thing…. and then we can relax.
The habit of seeing our choices through a wonky mirror.
It’s the hamster wheel towards overwork and frustration.

In the language of Positive Intelligence, we’re being led by our Hyper-Achiever Saboteur.
“Dependent on constant performance and achievement for self-respect and self-validation. Highly focused on external success, leading to unsustainable workaholic tendencies and loss of touch with deeper emotional and relationship needs”.

A lot of my clients are high achievers. All of them want to lead high-performance teams or be part of one. And it’s a good thing.

But this is where they get stuck: all work and no play makes Jack a dull person.
Reduced creativity.
Waning motivation.
An unconscious and unwanted slide into conforming to the corporate standard of “this is how we’ve always done things”.
Overworking so much that they start thinking “what’s the point?”

Yet if we can let go of the lie, we can come back to how we really want to lead.

To take charge of where we put our energy instead of being driven relentlessly by the fear of not being good enough.
To find that balance of striving for excellence while enjoying our successes along the way.
To feel refreshed and energised, even when working hard.
To enjoy our evenings and holidays by completely switching off from work.
To enjoy our work.
To have a healthy work-life balance.

We just need to let go of the lie.

This is part of my Thought Piece Series where I explore topics related to leadership and provide both answers and questions. My intention is to start meaningful conversations that help us move forward. Want to connect? Click here

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