Editor’s Note: Last year, I gave a free webinar on core values for my subscribers. One person who took me up on that offer was Wallace Montgomery.
Brave enough to allow the group to give a critique, I gave him some free coaching afterwards to refine the values he came up with. To my surprise, on his third draft, he listed Overachieving as one of his core values. I asked him to share his thinking behind this decision, and how he came to see overachieving as such a valuable part of his personality. I thought his answer was particularly insightful and I share it with you below.
For an overachiever, there are few better environments than grade school.
While I don’t miss sitting in a classroom all day, I do yearn for a time when concrete goals were laid in front of me – and the surest way to accomplish them was hard work. It was an all-you-can eat buffet, and studying to get straight A’s was just the first helping. You were encouraged to load your plate with after-school activities. And the more you could consume, the more impressed everyone appeared to be.
Needless to say, the post-college world shocked me.
Among the countless lessons learned over the years: hard work in and of itself doesn’t guarantee anything. To truly get better at something worthwhile, you generally have to fail at it again and again (after a lifetime of living in fear of the F!). And being an overachiever can be a serious liability – mostly because it’s a hard thing to shut off.
All my life I’d sprinted, unrelentingly, mercilessly, towards a goal. I would achieve it and keep going, barely slowing down, on to the next. That worked just fine in school, even in some jobs, but not so well in longer-term pursuits like changing careers.
My career change has been a long, exciting, frightening, unpredictable journey.
And as an overachiever, it’s been, at times, crushing. At the end of each day, what have I done? Some thinking? Self-reflection? Research? That’s not enough!
I started riding myself hard. I wanted results, and I knew they weren’t coming any time soon. The criticism became so frequent and harsh it endangered my ability to achieve anything.