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High Performer vs. High Achiever

Nov 17, 2021

Chances are you identify as a high achiever.

There are many positive traits about being one and it’s likely you’ve reaped rewards and had a lot of success. But what has it cost you? Time? Health? Relationships? Wellbeing? Opportunities?

For decades I wore the badge of high achiever with honor. I was exceptionally good at setting a goal, breaking it down, and pursuing it with persistence, tenacity, and sometime pure will. I was winning! And then I needed a months-long nap. After I re-energized, I’d ramp it all back up again for the next big thing I wanted to accomplish. I was rewarded for my results, praised for my hard work and commitment…and then was asked to do more. Which I did, because I had more energy than most, could do it better than most, was committed more than most. Sound familiar?

Achieving is about attaining a result, in singular pursuit of an external success, sometimes at personal sacrifice. It has a beginning and an end. In my case, it was followed by a need to do nearly nothing for a period of time (or an attempt to). Then it repeated until I finally searched for a better way.

High performance, on the other hand, is a sustainable approach to reaching desired outcomes. It is about succeeding beyond standard norms, consistently over the long term, while maintaining well-being and positive relationships. It’s repeatable, continual, and replenishing. It’s still outcome driven, it just doesn’t drive performers to the brink of exhaustion. Discovering high performance coaching created a big shift in me and provided new guideposts for how I wanted to win. It’s not perfect, but it is clarifying in that it helps me assess what I’m focused on, the energy it requires, and if I’m creating time for self and others.

Think about your current operating model. Are you in achiever mode or high performance? Are you sacrificing more than you’re succeeding? Are you worn out or do you have the strength to finish the year strong? What’s one thing you could alter today that would shift you into HP mode?


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