Is achievement at work important to you? I believe that it’s a double-edged sword if you are considered to be an overachiever. Read on to find out why:
Desirable Achievement Traits
When recruiting most companies add the following desirable traits to job advertisements:
- track record of achievement,
- intellectual curiosity, and
I’m sure there are others. What you don’t often see listed is insecurity. And this is really rather curious. Insecurity is something which recruiters secretly crave. The vast majority of companies would rather hire anxious, praise-hungry perfectionists, who go out of their way to please. Because the alternative is average performers, or worse still under performers. People who don’t want to continually be striving for achievement after achievement.
I came to this conclusion after reading the book, Leading Professionals: Power, Politics, and Prima Donnas By Laura Empson (below). It describes how one HR director behaves like a drug dealer. She sought vulnerable people and got them hooked on the high-status identity of the firm.
The Impostor Syndrome
And then there is the influence of impostor syndrome. Impostor syndrome is a concept that describes individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. There is a high correlation between impostor syndrome and high achievers.
So what all this amounts to is insecure, high-flying worriers who can be their own worst enemies. They fear being “discovered” as someone who can’t really do the job. They can become prone to overwork, meaning that burnout is a big issue.
Let’s hope that this pressure may ease off in future. As it is sobering to consider how much of the economy rests on the fragile shoulders of these troubled overachievers.
Photo on Foter.com