Overachievers are brute force workers.
You’ve worked hard. You’ve gone above and beyond. You’ve forsaken your friends, activities and even a few meals to achieve your goals. You have all the signs of being a classic over-achiever, striving for perfection, promotion and notice among supervisors. So why haven’t you progressed higher in your career?
These very traits could actually be a recipe for disaster, according to several LinkedIn Influencers who weighed in on the topic of perfection, achievement and more this week. Here’s what two of them had to say.
S Slade Sundar, Chief Operating Officer at Forte Interactive Inc
Are you a hard-working overachiever? You might be frustrated with your lack of career advancement, wrote Sundar in his post Why Managers Don’t Promote Overachievers.
Overachievers “work long hours, complete mountains of work, but can’t seem to get promoted,” he wrote. “The reason? They need to be high performers, not overachievers.”
Didn’t know there was a difference? High performers, wrote Sundar, are strategists. “They know when to wait, when to attack, how to sacrifice and when to change direction. They can position the company to achieve victory in multiple ways and move on non-linear paths,” he wrote.
But overachievers are brute force workers, he wrote. “They have one mission, and that is to get from point A to point B as fast as possible within the rules provided. They focus on completing as much as possible, in a linear fashion, until there is nothing left to complete,” Sundar suggested.
“The difference between the two is hard to spot at first, because both are able to produce short-term results,” Sundar wrote. “The key difference is long-term results and value.”
Millennials, generally considered people born in the 1980s and 1990s, “can rarely tell the difference,” Sundar wrote. “They will often attempt to get a promotion by doing ten times more work and will get frustrated when they aren’t promoted into a more strategic or managerial role. The high performer role is harder for millennials to grasp since they are the instant gratification generation.”
But, managers can help cultivate high performers, even those whose natural inclination is to overachieve, Sundar wrote. Among his tips:
“Review past goals. Identify their goals in terms of overachiever versus high performer so they understand what path they have been on (and) can make a decision” about how to move forward, he wrote.
“Set strategic goals. An overachiever suffers from single mindedness. They will need… goals in which the planning, not execution, is the outcome,” he wrote.
Adrian Gonzalez, president at Adelante SCM, founder and host of Talking Logistics
“For a long time, one of my favorite corporate taglines was Lexus’ ‘The relentless pursuit of perfection’,” wrote Gonzalez in his post Don’t Confuse Excellence with Perfection. “The word relentless invokes passion and commitment… and if you’re going to set the bar high, why not perfection?”
But then, Gonzalez faced the question of whether perfection was the goal in a more personal way, when his son went 3-for-4 at the plate in a Little League game, but could only focus on his one strikeout.
“I finally said, ‘If perfection is your goal, then you’re always going to be disappointed,’ especially in baseball, where failing 7 out of 10 times at the plate is considered excellent,” he wrote.
“Why not perfection? Because pursuing it, especially relentlessly may lead you to view anything short of perfection as failure,” wrote Gonzalez. That, he suggested, “is not only a false measure, but also blinds you to what you have actually accomplished, and deprives you of enjoying and appreciating those accomplishments.”
Striving for perfection also “sets the bar so high, so far out, that no matter how hard you work, or how much time you spend going after it, you never seem to get any closer — like pursuing the horizon line in an endless, barren desert…your energy and drive, depleted,” he wrote.
That’s why, he wrote, striving for excellence is preferred — and could make a person more successful. “Excellence almost always falls short of perfection, and it’s that gap that motivates us to improve, that inspires us to innovate, that humbles us and strengthens our character,” Gonzalez wrote.
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