5 questions super-achievers must ask themselves

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“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

Warren Buffett



Sylvia Lafair, Contributing Writer Mar 24, 2016, 7:40am EDT Updated: Mar 24, 2016, 7:57am EDT

The difference between having lots of drive to be productive and being driven to succeed are worlds apart. Trophies tarnish over time, and understanding the core of self-motivation can change your life for the better.

We love winners.

We watch the Academy Awards, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, and we hear the words of revered coach Vince Lombardi: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

Ponder this: If you are determined to be first, the best, the one and only, if you work 24/7 and never take a day off, or if you take a day off and spend most of your time thinking about what you need to do as soon as get back to work, if your greatest joy is amassing lots of praise, awards, titles, and money — you are, to put it kindly, driven.

You are a super-achiever, an over-achiever. Yes, of course, you are productive. However, the big question is: at what cost?

You can dial it down and still have a fulfilled life. Actually, more fulfilling than it is now, by addressing the core of that emotionally packed word, SUCCESS.

The new rage in the work world today is all about rethinking productivity, alternative ways to solve business challenges, and the keys to healthy self-motivation. More and more leadership seminars are cropping up that want to go past data-driven understanding of your business and require you to re-evaluate your role as an executive or entrepreneur to help you discover a new definition of what success really looks, feels and sounds like.

Here are some questions to ask yourself or send this to a super-achiever you live with or work with.

  • When were you successful as a child, how were you rewarded?
  • Who were you competing against in school and how did that play out?
  • Who in your family was a huge success? How did they handle success?
  • Who in your family was seen as a failure? How was that handled?
  • What type of crisis occurred in your family or culture that made you want to “right the wrongs” no matter what?

These are questions that often will lead to a deeper perspective of why there is an obsession to succeed and open the door for opportunities to become the healthy opposite of a super-achiever, which is a creative collaborator.

For more information about the plight of super-achievers making up for some early shame or tragedy in life, consider reading “Don’t Bring It to Work.”

You see, success doesn’t have to entail only individual accomplishments. It can be more rewarding when it includes working together and collaborating.

Creative collaboration is consistent with even the greatest individual accomplishment. Most people don’t know this, but renowned artists Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin worked together for a period of nine weeks, painting side by side, and each claimed he learned a great deal from the other.

In her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “A Team of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin shows how Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest individual leaders in American political history, formed his cabinet by taking a group of super-achievers, each convinced of his own personal superiority, and helping them begin the complex task of collaborating beyond their individual needs and wants.

When super-achievers come together to support a larger vision for the common good, amazing things can happen. Working from a growth mindset rather than from habits and patterns of the past is energizing and invigorating. It also is a best practice in the work world.

The idea that we give up to get is very important here.

Super-achievers who can tackle the need to be “the one” and learn to include, to work together, to collaborate, gain entrance into a more rewarding world of heightened creativity. Working together makes it even easier to achieve a state of intense focus and immediacy and solve problems with others in what is commonly called a “flow” state.

This is where stress is diminished and productivity is enhanced.



Sylvia Lafair is president of Creative Energy Options, a global consulting firm. Her focus on people skills takes her to companies such as Novartis, McGraw Hill, Microsoft, family firms, and entrepreneurial companies where she helps develop solid teams and heighten productivity. Her Total Leadership Connections program has been named one of the top leadership programs by H.R.com. Her books include “Gutsy: How Women Leaders Make Change” and “Unique: How Story Sparks Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement.”






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