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These High Achiever Sins are Keeping You Stuck in Your Career

I have identified as a high achiever my entire life, and for the most part, I love it.

Being a high achiever comes with a sense of accomplishment, drive, motivation, and a work ethic that allows me to keep going when most people quit.

But, being a high achiever comes with a few side effects.

Habits that become sins and can actually hinder your progress, and keep you stuck.

I have fallen into every single one of these traps but eventually learned how to use my high achiever tendencies to drive career growth without killing myself. I want to share with you how you can do the same.


The High Achiever Sins


Sin #1: Perfectionism

Perfectionism impacts those who take pride in their work. It doesn't bother people who do the bare minimum.

Striving for perfection comes from a good place, but it can lead to over-analysis and hesitation, and cost you hours that you could be putting into better use.

I used to fall into this trap often until one of my CEOs shared this advice:

Done is better than perfect.


Sometimes getting something out there is more important than getting it right. There is value in attention to detail, but at some point, there are diminishing returns. 

How do you get over the desire to get things perfect?

I have a two-step approach:

Aim for 80%. Set the bar to good enough, and focus on getting there.

Set a due date before you get started and deliver whatever you have when you hit that deadline.

I’ve used this approach to release marketing campaigns, share content, and even build my programs and courses. I see making progress as a better outcome than perfect.

Sin #2: Reluctance to Delegate

This is what I call the “I can do it better and faster” syndrome.

I see so many high achievers make the same mistake out of fear. They fear no one else can live up to their standards.

This sin almost got me burned out. I was a young manager and my team grew from 5 employees to 20 in a short period of time. Some of these employees were new and still ramping up, so instead of delegating, I did the work myself. I figured it would be faster than training them…

It did take me less time, but it also cost me my health. I worked 18-hour days including weekends for a few weeks to keep up and not miss any deadlines.


Newsflash: one person can’t do the work of 20. It is humanly impossible even for the best of us.

On the verge of exhaustion, I decided to trust my team and started delegating. Instead of spending all of my time doing the work, I spent my days training others. The first few weeks were still brutal. I had to spend a lot of time with my team, but in the long run, it reduced the workload and allowed me to focus on leading.

How to avoid this trap: change your expectations. Most people won’t do things your way, but it doesn’t mean they won’t do it well. Hire people you trust to get you the outcome you need and give them the freedom to do things their way.

You have to let go of “doing” to become an executive. Your value doesn’t come from delivering the work yourself, it comes from leveraging your team to do more than you can do yourself. 


BTW, I’m dealing with this trap right now in my business. After two years of doing everything myself, I realized I had to start delegating if I wanted my business to grow.


Sin #3: Assuming Recognition

High achievers believe that hard work gets you rewarded. If you follow the rules to a tee - you’ll be successful. That might have been true in school and college, but that’s not how the corporate world works.

You don’t get promoted simply for completing your work. If that were the case, every high achiever would be CEO by now. Expecting promotions based solely on achievements is unrealistic, and would only lead to disappointment.

I found that out the hard way, seeing people who didn't work as hard as I did, get promoted over me.

My initial instinct was to work harder, but that wasn’t the solution.

You need to accept the rules of the game are different at the executive level. Your work doesn’t speak for itself, so you have to advocate for yourself. Without self-promotion and communicating your achievements, you won’t get far.

I struggled to take credit and share my wins at the beginning. It felt like bargaining to have these big announcements and wait for applause. So instead, I started practicing advocating for myself in small doses.

I added one small win to my 1:1 agenda with my manager. I started every meeting with a success story.

Two things happened. First, I got better at advocating for myself without feeling guilty. And second, those wins started stacking up and got my manager’s attention.


Sin #4: Avoiding Risk

As a high achiever, I’ve always had a bad case of fear of failure.

With so much of my identity tied to achieving my goals, the thought of failing becomes terrifying.

I avoided risks for a long time, thinking I was protecting myself by avoiding opportunities with potential setbacks.

But the opposite was true. Staying where it was familiar and easy, kept me stuck. 

Breaking into executive roles and growing your career requires taking risks. You won’t get there by playing it safe. That means you have to accept failure as a part of growth.

I convinced myself to embrace risks by changing how I talked about them in my head.

Instead of thinking about how risky a career move would be, I ask myself: How much will I learn?

The bigger the risk, the bigger the opportunity to learn. And when you learn, you grow.

Sin #5: Overcommitting

One of my best qualities as a high achiever is my ability to do more. I can work 15 and 18-hour days, push myself to run another mile, and add one more task to an already full calendar. I can do hard things because they lead to achievements. But there is a downside to this kind of work ethic. 

Juggling too many tasks may result in burnout and compromised performance.


Just because we can do more, doesn’t mean we should.


Here’s how I approach it: Instead of trying to give 100% of myself 24/7, I practice operating at peak performance. This approach means you work in bursts. You dedicate time to hard work and going all in, but instead of doing it all the time, you do it in specific time slots.

From the outside, it may seem like you are working less, but in reality, you get better results.

You can do more in 3 hours of focused work when you are at your best, than what most people do in 8 hours of distraction and putting out fires.

The caveat? You need to learn how to prioritize your time, and how to say no to work that doesn’t serve you.

Your next steps

Being a high achiever served me well in my career. It is one of my driving forces when I use it for good and don’t let myself fall into these traps. If you are guilty of these high achiever sins, it’s time to make some changes.

You can be a high achiever without burning out, procrastinating, or solving every problem in the world by yourself. Take a long hard look at your habits, and ask yourself: Am I falling into these traps?

I believe in you and I’m rooting for you.

Maya ❤️


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