OUTsight/ Being An Achiever


Diemen, 10 January 2018 — What does it mean to be an Achiever, and how can you become one this year?

Several of my friends who are also coaches told me that they choose to work with high achievers. I was puzzled about what they meant, so I did some research on the characteristics of high achievers, and how to become one. What I found was a mixed bag of views and opinions. Some made sense to me, while many others did not.

So I started putting my own understandings into words about what it means to be a (high) Achiever and how to become one. I share my thoughts with you here, and welcome your feedback with your perspectives on it, particularly as you feel it applies to you individually and in relation to the people around you at work.

With a systems thinking approach, let us look at being an Achiever from two perspectives. First by seeing it as a process, and second by looking at it in a structural way to discover key elements.

In this post, we will look at the process perspective.

Achieving as a Process

When we look at being an Achiever from a process perspective, we recognize that we are always in a dynamic situation where we continuously deal with change and we adapt to circumstances. A simple way to look at this is to see how a coin has two sides that are always present, and that we can turn it around whenever we want. 

Similarly, being an Achiever has two fundamental drivers, like in our alternating electric current.

One is about achieving in an assertive way, by taking the initiative. From Chinese philosophy, we know this as being driven by hot, assertive Yang energy.

The other ’side of the coin’ is when we let ourselves be guided by cool, receptive Yin energy. In Alone Or Together I referred to these alternating energies as Grit and Grace, respectively.

Whenever we are exercising Yang energy, the seed of Yin energy is also there, waiting to come into focus after Yang has done its work. Likewise, when we are exercising Yin energy, the seed of Yang energy is already waiting to get fired up.

Essentially, from a process perspective, there are two complementary and alternating ways of being an Achiever.  One is in an assertive way, and the other is in a receptive way. This strikes me as fundamentally important because achieving involves what we do individually within ourselves, as well as what we do together with, and in relation to others. That’s where the dynamics of Yin and Yang, of Grace and Grit, come into being.

For many people, high achievers are marked by Grit, by persistence. We hear how Achievers simply don’t give up on what they set out to do until it has been achieved. This is true. It has validity. Yet it is only one side of the coin. In the process of achieving results, using receptive and adaptive Yin energy is equally important. There is a time for each of these two energies to be used, and knowing when to engage these two energies is key to creating changes and achieving results.

Attracting Achievement

TFA Free Guide Attracting Achievement.jpg

Getting achievements is not only a matter of pushing. It can also be pulled in, be attracted. In the Personal Power Page on Attracting Achievement, you can find three simple steps that, when you take them, can quickly become a virtuous cycle of achievement.

It starts by observing what attracts you. This can be an idea that offers new insights and promise. It could also be something that you do not like and prompts you to think how to avoid something that is unpleasant or not in accordance with your values.

The second step, then, is the most important one. What word is hidden inside the word Attraction? 

When we have a good idea that inspires us, we give respect to that idea by taking action on it. And that helps us to make an achievement, even if it is a small one initially.

Making progress, by a sequence of small or big achievements, is one of the most powerful self-motivators we have as humans, as shown by the research of Professor Teresa Amabile at Harvard University.

From making progress and getting achievements, we invariably get new inspirations that attract us, and we can then again honor these inspirations by taking action on them. And so it goes on, until it becomes a virtuous cycle.

Taking action is, of course, a critical part of being an Achiever. Limiting yourself to thinking and reflection is not going to do it. I personally love the concept of honoring an idea I have by taking action on it. How does this land with you?

Alternating Dynamics

How do you experience and use the alternating cycle of Yin receptiveness and Yang assertion in being an achiever, and how you go about creating a virtuous cycle of inspiration, action, and achievement?

It’s always good to keep things as simple as possible, yet no simpler than that. Working with the alternating dynamics of assertiveness and receptiveness, and creating a virtuous Triple-A cycle of Attraction—Action—Achievement, we play with essential dynamics of Being An Achiever.

I am looking forward to getting your feedback. We will look at the complementary structural perspective in a next post.