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If I knew of a way to stop telling myself lies, I would.

A couple of CIA agents wrote a book called Spy the Lie, where they reveal the “tells” people give when lying. For example, if someone pauses to answer a question they should easily and immediately know the answer to, they’re probably lying.

As a mother, I already knew this.

If I ask my daughter if she ate five servings of fruits and vegetables last Thursday, she’ll understandably pause before answering. That’s a hard thing to remember. But if I ask if she brushed her teeth this morning and she pauses, she’s probably lying. (She’ll usually do a hard swallow too, another big tell. Poor kid.)

But those kinds of “tells” are useless when evaluating your own internal voices.

For example, sometimes I get caught up thinking about how to create a six-figure business. I spent a week strategizing what products I could offer and dreaming up creative marketing ideas. I got really specific, running numbers for different scenarios, re-evaluating based on my known optimistic tendencies, etc.

It was a lot of work, but it was fun work. Until I realized what having a six-figure business would really mean.

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It’s gutting, isn’t it?

You’ve finally found that thing that makes you feel giddy and alive—maybe it’s a job, or a place, or a person you think you could spend the rest of your life with.

And then, bang. It’s over.

Maybe you were fired. Maybe your positioned is being moved to Newark. Maybe they just weren’t that into you. Whatever the reason, someone else has decided the good times are over and there’s nothing you can do about it.

When you’re in the middle of that pain, you can’t help but wonder: what if that was as good as it gets?

Will I have to settle for something that will always feel less than?

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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.