Do you just know you can achieve all sorts of good things, important and valuable things, and are you comfortable acknowledging what you achieve.
Are you unable to recognise and/or articulate the value of your achievements? Do you mow down these achievements the moment they tentatively raise their egotistical heads, like fresh seedlings in a ploughed paddock? You’re not going to be the tall poppy. You’re uncomfortable with it in others, so you wouldn’t want to be in that field either.
Achievement behaviour is not just a reflection of your achievements. It is much more complex in terms of its impact on your thought process. It is a reflection of your approach to activities and your recognition of the results. For some people, keeping their own ego in check is so important that it makes it difficult to progress in accordance with their potential.
Achievement oriented people make great leaders. Their positive attitude, their self-belief and belief in their teams inspires those who work with them and around them. They are self-driven and work best autonomously.
Am I achievement oriented or not? How do I know?
Let me pitch these questions at you.
- Do you find yourself with a strong desire to see the best results from whatever you do or you are involved with?
- Do you set your own agenda and prefer not to have it set for you? Do you leave things to chance – are you dependant on fate – or are you focussed on shaping your own destiny?
- Do you seek out feedback and receive it well? Do you believe that your contribution counts?
Stirrrrike 3 and you’re OUT
So you’ve thought about this and you’re striking out big time. Well dust yourself off because this is an important opportunity.
“The desire to achieve is a major source of strength in business, both for individual managers and for the organizations they lead. It generates passion and energy, which fuel growth and help companies sustain performance over the long-term. And the achievement drive is on the rise. We’ve spent 35 years assessing executive motivation, and we’ve seen a steady increase during the past decade in the number of managers for whom achievement is the primary motive. Businesses have benefited from this trend: Productivity has risen, and innovation, as measured by the number of patents issued per year, has soared.” HBR
Achievement-oriented people not only get results but they are confident celebrating them and as a result, they have increased career opportunities, and are more engaged in their work, which becomes less stressful as they tick off both the enjoyable and the nagging actions. They have set their course for adventure and they are on the journey. They are more resilient and so learn from their mistakes and welcome constructive criticism.
Here are some actions for developing achievement oriented behaviours
- Wherever you can, focus on what is really important to you. Working on what matters to you most is when you’ll experience the greatest sense of achievement. Be wary of too much focussing on pleasing everyone else.
- We all face challenges, mistakes, underestimations, a lack of competence/capability, and we need to recognise these and learn from them. Seems counterintuitive, but achievement-oriented people really learn from moments when they are not achieving.
- One of many definitions of insanity is doing something the same way over and over again and expecting a different result. Do something different – stretch yourself, be adventurous.
- You do have to set goals. Not the hide away in a dusty journal in a shoebox type of goals, but attainable goals for the long-term. Achievements are so much more meaningful when attached to a personal goal and the route to the achievement is so much more compelling.
- Behaviour is reinforced by our self-talk. The minute you say to yourself, “I always …” you are setting yourself up for success or failure depending on how you finish the sentence.
- Look back over the last year or two and reflect on your achievements. Write them down, and think about the impact they have had on you, your career, your personal life, your sense of satisfaction and engagement.
- Pick off some low-hanging fruit. Find a task that is easily achieved, but will have some impact. Knock it over and celebrate your success.
- Remember, not everything has to be perfect. The need for perfection exposes you to the risk of failure and failure undermines your sense of achievement. There will always be failure, so focus on resilience.
A small but warranted caution
People who are very oriented toward achievement can focus so much on the gold medal that they may have a diminished concern for others around them and this needs to be measured. This characteristic should be balanced with your affiliative and humanistic behaviours.
“In the short-term, through sheer drive and determination, overachieving leaders may be very successful, but there’s a dark side to the achievement motive. By relentlessly focusing on tasks and goals—revenue or sales targets, say—an executive or company can, over time, damage performance. Overachievers tend to command and coerce, rather than coach and collaborate, thus stifling subordinates. They take frequent shortcuts and forget to communicate crucial information, and they may be oblivious to the concerns of others. Their teams’ performance begins to suffer, and they risk missing the very goals that initially triggered the achievement-oriented behavior.” HBR
Here is a little exercise to help you develop your achievement behaviours
People who struggle with this behaviour maybe battling with the demons of real or perceived past failures that are setting up interference in their thought process. It is incredibly important to be able to examine this interference and address it.
Take a particular goal you have and write it down. It may be a new goal or one you’ve been struggling with for a while. Write down all the reasons why you believe you can’t achieve the goal – the interferences. Now see yourself preparing for a conversation with a friend or a mentor where you have to justify the validity of each of these interferences. I guarantee you’ll knock out a few almost immediately. Run a big fat red line through them. You may even find yourself embarrassed to raise them as they emerge as trivial or an excuse to procrastinate. I know first-hand. This happens to me. I will be in conversation with my coach and she will look at me as if to say, “Really?” and I find myself taking another mouthful of coffee and looking away or trying the “just Kidding” line.
So, Ok, you still have a few left on your list. Some of them may be just insurmountable which means you are setting yourself unrealistic, unachievable goals. But most have them will have a way through, round or over if you look hard enough. You need a few actions to get you up in the air and over them, or alternately, stealthily around them without the judges noticing. Quite often you will have an answer and you just need to tease it out of you grey matter. But if you just can’t find the answer, then organise a coach, a mentor, friend or family member and share the challenge with them.
Well, congratulations, you just gave yourself a coaching session, that’s an achievement.
Why wouldn’t you choose to be achievement oriented?
No one takes a step forward without an action, and every step forward is an achievement. Work out where you’re going, how you’re going to get there. Take a step, celebrate it and plan the next. Soon you’ll be running.
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