Are you a hyper-achiever? In this blog, I cover the chartacteristics, typical thoughts, feelings, justification lies, impact on self and others, and the original survival function of the Hyper-Achiever. I took the parts in italics from PositiveIntelligence.com. I have created a fictional character, Ellie, to demonstrate the Hyper-Achiver saboteur.
If you consider yourself to be a Hyper-Achiever, bottomline results are important to you.  This blog is part 2 of 4 in a series of blogs written about the 4 saboteurs that I see the most in intuitive women leaders.  It’s crucial to understand ourselves better in order to comprehend why we are getting the results we are.
The Hyper-Achiever depends on constant performance and achievement for self-respect and self-validation. She is highly focused on external success. This leads to unsustainable workaholic tendencies and loss of touch with deeper emotional and relationship needs.
Are You a Hyper-Achiever: Impact on Intuitive Women Leaders

Discover how the Hyper-Achiever saboteur is dependent on constant performance and achievement for self-validation and what to do about it.

Characteristics Of A Hyper-Achiever

  • Competitive, image and status conscious.
  • Good at covering up insecurities and showing positive image.
  • Adapts personality to fit what would be most impressive to the other. Goal-oriented and workaholic streak.
  • More into perfecting public image than introspection.
  • Can be self-promoting.
  • Can keep people at safe distance.

 

Ellie’s Origin Story Of Hyper-Achievement

Ellie is a 53-year-old, white woman and a C-Suite executive with a large multinational company.  She grew up in a typical middle class family in America. Her dad was a construction worker and worked long hours. He came home around 8pm and expected Ellie’s mother to have a hot dinner on the table pronto.

 

Her Dad Didn’t See Ellie

He didn’t say much. Ellie often wondered if he knew she was his third born child. Have you heard the phrase “A daughter is the apple of her daddy’s eye?” Well this wasn’t that! She doubted if he remembered her middle name.

 

Ellie’s two older brothers were both into basketball and baseball, the only two sports available in her small rural town. Her dad tried to make their weekend games.  At least he showed some effort with them. They bonded over sports stats.

Getting 100% Changed The Trajectory Of Ellie’s Life

Her mom existed to feed the family. Her dad didn’t talk much more to her mom than he did to her. Then one day Ellie’s whole world changed. On a particularly boring January day of her sophomore year in high school, Ellie was cooped up in the house due to a snow day.  As a result, she had more time than normal to prepare for an Algebra II test–she’d always been good at math.

She aced it and was quite proud of herself.  But what made her even happier was her dad’s reaction. 

She’ll never forget. She was standing in the kitchen, sharing the celebration with her mom who was washing dishes. Her dad overheard the conversation and called out from the living room where he was lounging in an old brown recliner, “Really, Ell? You made 100% on an algebra test?!”

It Felt Good To Get Her Dad’s Attention

She looked almost confused as she eyed her mom, to gauge her reaction to his unusual interest. Mom shrugged her shoulders, like she had no idea what had come over him. Ellie walked into the living room and said, “Yah, dad, I aced it.” “Well great job, girl! Keep it up.”
And kept it up she did.  So began a long streak of making straight A’s in school, and not just in math, but in all of her subjects. 

Her Hyper-Achiever was born. She didn’t learn how to connect with people. Instead, she was very concerned with her image.  As long as people saw her as smart, she felt important. People certainly didn’t make her feel good as achievement did.

Thoughts Of A Hyper-Achiever

  • I must be best at what I do.
  • If I can’t be outstanding, I won’t bother.
  • Must be efficient and effective.
  • Emotions get in the way of performance.
  • Focus on thinking and action.
  • I can be anything I want to be.
  • You are worthy as long as you are successful and others think well of you.
In college, Ellie’s academic career continued to soar along with her dad’s attention. 
Are You a Hyper-Achiever: Impact on Intuitive Women Leaders

Discover how the Hyper-Achiever saboteur is dependent on constant performance and achievement for self-validation and what to do about it.

She got a dopamine hit every time he praised her. She was being conditioned to value performance over people and emotions.  Her top two values were: I must be better than everyone else, and I am worthy as long as I am successful and others think highly of me.

Feelings Of A Hyper-Achiever

  • I don’t like dwelling in feelings for too long.
  • They distract from achieving my goals.
  • Sometimes I feel empty and depressed inside, but don’t linger there.
  • Important to me to feel successful. That’s what it is all about. I feel worthy mostly when I am successful.
  • Could have fear of intimacy and vulnerability. Closeness with others would allow them to see that I am not as perfect as the image I portray.
After college, Ellie married married one of her Assistant Professors of Literature, Rob, who was 10 years older. She loved attending his academic soirees. She enjoyed impressing others with her ability to speak intelligently about literature, philosophy, politics, business, you name it.
They opted not to have children but to travel the world and have cultural experiences.  She would have liked to have a child or two, but Rob wasn’t interested. So she accepted this path.  She wasn’t very happy in her marriage; she knew she married Rob for the wrong reasons.
She was attracted to his intellect.  Turns out he wasn’t much more skilled at connecting deeply than she was. Neither of them knew how to be intimate or vulnerable with one another. When Ellie was 45 years old (they’d been married 23 years), Rob had an affair and asked for a divorce.
Though she wasn’t in love with Rob, she’d settled into a comfortable lifestyle and wasn’t prepared for the havoc of a divorce…

Justification Lies Of A Hyper-Achiever

  • Life is about achieving and producing results.
  • Portraying a good image helps me achieve results.
  • Feelings are just a distraction and don’t help anything.
The divorce caused Ellie to look more closely at how she was living her life. For as long as she could remember, she’d been telling herself the same old story of “I have to achieve to be OK, to be lovable.” Image had been everything to her.  Rob fit nicely with that package.
But then Rob married the woman he had the affair with. They actually seemed happy and connected. This really hurt her. “Why couldn’t we have that? Am I flawed and unlovable?” she wondered. She sought coaching and began to understand how she’d been lying to herself all these years.
She’d been suppressing how she truly feels because she didn’t understand what to do with those feelings.  Underneath her tough exterior was a little girl who wanted her dad’s love and approval.
Are You a Hyper-Achiever: Impact on Intuitive Women Leaders

Discover how the Hyper-Achiever saboteur is dependent on constant performance and achievement for self-validation and what to do about it.

Impact on Self And Others Of The Hyper-Achiever

  • Peace and happiness is fleeting and short-lived in brief celebrations of achievement.
  • Self-acceptance is continuously conditioned on the next success.
  • Lose touch with deeper feelings, deeper self, and ability to connect deeply with others.
  • Others might be pulled into the performance vortex of the Hyper-Achiever and become similarly lopsided in their focus on external achievement.
As Ellie progressed in her coaching, she found that she had a lot of grief she was unaware of.  She grieved for the little girl who never felt special to her father. She was sad for the daughter who didn’t learn to respect women because of how her mom didn’t demand self-respect.
She mourned for the woman who decided it was OK to marry a man for image and not for love. She felt sorry for the woman who wanted to have children but never would.  She grieved for the woman who prioritized work over relationships all these years. 
Conseqently, she felt lonely and disconnected without any real friends to speak of. So much grief.  She felt all of the pain of NOT being safe and supported through loving relationships. She doubted if she could fix this so late in her life.

Original Survival Function

For the Hyper-Achiever, self-validation, self-acceptance and self-love are all conditional—conditioned on continual performance. This is often the result of either conditional or altogether absent validation from parental figures. 
Even with very loving and approving parents, it is easy for children to get the sense that they are loved in return for achieving, obeying the rules, having good manners, etc, rather than unconditionally.
Ellie definitely had little or no validation from her parents, UNTIL she began making good grades. Then it was conditional. Ellie didn’t have the sense that she was loved for who she was.  She married a man who provided the same shallow love.  And that is exactly the type of transactional love she doled out to him in exchange.
I hope Ellie’s story demonstrates to you how the Hyper-Achiever views the world. Do you see yourself in this story? If so, don’t fret. There is another way.

What is ONE Way the Hyper-Achiever  Interferes With Women in Leadership?

 

The Hyper-Achiever keeps the intuitive woman leader on the hamster wheel of being constantly on the go. It convinces her that she’s inadequate if at the end of the day she asks herself, “Did I do enough to not feel guilty?” The Hyper-Achiever says, “NOPE!”

How Can You Rein In The  Hyper-Achiever Saboteur?

Set Boundaries for Yourself Around Work
Allow yourself to slow down and really connect with your heart and soul’s yearning to live fully alive. Be true to yourself in how you allow others to treat you, and you’ll find yourself connecting better with those you love.
I realize setting boundaries can feel really scary, but it IS possible.  And others will respect you more.  Of course, there are consequences to setting boundaries…. 
You could lose your job if you refuse to work the hours demanded of you.  Clients might fire you. Your partner could leave you.  And though these things would feel devastating in the moment, is there any behavior that justifies betraying yourself?
If you stand up for yourself through slowing down, being present with your true vulnerable feelings, and setting healthy boundaries around hyper-achievement, so much of your life could change for the better. I’m here to support you. Reach out. Schedule free time to chat with me.
Much Love,
Angie Monko,
Life Coach for Intuitive Women Leaders