Personal Development

The dark side-effects of high performance

I am an overachiever. I set high standards, break boundaries and am driven to succeed. Over the years I started noticing a pattern, a dark side-effect of this behaviour. At first, I thought it was just me. But through questioning individuals with the same approach to life and work I made a startling discovery. High performance can lead to some nasty side effects.


The attitude of winners

High Performing individuals have a strong desire to succeed. This desire drives our determination and attention to results. It is energy intensive and our relationship with time is stretched, we want results now. ‘Later’ is a concept that only applies to others. We make sure that we squeeze every possible minute for the potential to produce better outcomes. The pace of the working world has definitely increased – but performers struggle to wait for results, whether it is getting a new client to sign a contract or producing new marketing material for the website.

Sounds great – what’s the problem?

My findings are NOT scientifically validated but I will share them – and you can decide whether it makes sense. I have identified 3 main challenges to this approach to work:-

  1. Pace – our desire for results can ‘alienate’ us from people who prefer a slower pace. We can come across as aggressive, a trait that may cause others discomfort and lead them to say ‘no’ – just to get away from us. This negatively effects relationships with co-workers and clients.
  2. Authority – we have a tendency to justify overstepping authority to get the results we want. To us, the ends justify the means, to others it is destructive and negatively impacts their ability to trust. Trust, in the workplace, is very important for success.
  3. Energy – being ‘us’ is energy intensive. The wins are great… but when we don’t experience frequent wins we can become almost frenetic in our actions to create them. It is easy for us to become ‘addicted’ to wins and, like any addict, when there is no win, we experience withdrawal symptoms. We can even become desensitized to winning which leads us to pursue bigger and bigger goals. Our internal drive increases stress and the greater the stress, the more likely that we produce results that fall short of our expectations.

Oh Sh*t… I’m stuffed!

Not necessarily. There is no need to seek medical intervention just yet. Awareness of this dark side of performance can allow you to challenge the way you approach work and life. If you are happy to continue making these trade-offs, then there is no need to adjust your work behaviour. If, however, you feel exhausted, out of control or down in the dumps on a regular, ongoing basis… perhaps it is time to encourage a healthier approach.

 We are interested in your success stories! Please share your experiences with us, and if you found this article useful – share it with your networks.