From Underperformer to High Achiever

Do you ever feel like you’re just never going to get anywhere in your career? Or that real success always seems to be out of reach? Over time, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing you don’t have what it takes to be a star performer, but you don’t have to stay stuck there. Here are some things you can do to move you from being an underperformer to a high achiever.

Examine what you believe about yourself.  Negative self-perceptions or beliefs are often to blame for why we get “stuck” in a discouraging cycle of underperformance.   We are often our own worst critics, and judge ourselves harshly. Experiencing failure is not the same as being a failure. Often the most successful people will admit they’ve failed many times on the road to high achievement. Every skill requires practice, including success. Practice by celebrating small successes. Resist the urge to downplay what went right. Instead of telling yourself what you did wrong, ask yourself what you will do differently next time in order to increase your success.

Acknowledge your strengths and build on them. No two people are exactly alike, and that greatly benefits our society. You possess a unique combination of gifts, talents, abilities, experience and interests that fits better in some careers than others.  One of the greatest mistakes people make is spending too much time and effort trying to shore up their weaknesses for a job that doesn’t suit them. It’s much more effective to focus on what you’re good at! If you’re not sure how to assess that, ask for honest feedback from your employer, co-workers and people who know you well and have a genuine interest in your success. It’s not unusual for others to see potential in you that you’ve overlooked because you’re too focused on your real or imagined weaknesses.  If you are interested in more formally exploring your strengths I recommend you read the book, StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.  When you purchase the book you will receive an access code to complete the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment online.

Identify the fears that are holding you back. You might be surprised how many people are afraid of succeeding, knowing that success could challenge them and present even more opportunities to fail. One very helpful way to address this is to talk with highly successful people in order to better understand the “costs” of success.  Learn what it cost them in time, money, family relationships, emotional and physical energy and what their success has helped them gain in those same areas.

Explore resources and pursue education. It’s not uncommon for someone to be in the right kind of business or profession, but still be unprepared or ill-equipped to perform successfully. Often, it’s due to a lack of education or skill development. Whether you’re writing advertising copy, repairing diesel motors, selling products or services, caring for the elderly or doing taxes, you will always benefit from improving your knowledge in your field. Take classes directly related to your job, or even in confidence-building skills like public speaking. For some, improving your literacy, learning a second language or attending a seminar on communication could make the difference between underperforming and becoming a shining star.

Prioritize your goals. No matter what kind of career you are in – or aspire to – it has to fit into your life as a whole. You decide how important it is and whether you can balance your work with your family, your social life, your contribution to society (e.g. volunteering) and your well-being. Do what it takes to succeed in your career in proportion to the value it has in your life. Getting a degree may consume your time and energy for awhile and may force you to put your social life on the back burner while you study, but it is likely to be worth it once you finish. On the flip side, if you’re working double overtime to get ahead and it costs you your family, the price is too high. Be intentional about setting your priorities based on your life values.

Be accountable. It’s not easy to stay on a track of commitment, education, sacrifice and hard work, and it is important to have someone who can hold you accountable and encourage you along the way. If you’re struggling along by yourself, you will likely become discouraged. But if you have someone to hold you accountable, you will be challenged and encouraged to keep going. If you don’t have a boss, co-worker or friend who can be a cheer-leader for you, I recommend connecting with a Coach. Success is rarely a one-person accomplishment; you need someone to ask questions that spur you on. What did you do today to achieve your goal? Have you counted the cost? Does your family support your efforts? Are you adjusting your schedule to include some rest? What books have you read? Who else can offer support?

As a professional Coach, I derive a great deal of satisfaction from seeing my clients realize and build upon their strengths, identify and overcome their fears, articulate their goals and ultimately experience the success they desire.  You don’t have to be an underperformer any more… you can become a high achiever!

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd


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