Becoming a Better Achiever

You don’t have to accept your past performance as a measure of your future performance.

It’s not a natural phenomenon when we don’t achieve. There are real consequences—the most important being that we live without the achievement and the compensation that would have come with it. What we forfeit is the opportunity cost of not achieving. When we consider jumping into the achievement cycle, we naturally think about the potential rewards. We think about the costs, the risks, and the potential disappointments. Before you step forward to take the leap toward achievement, recognize that you can learn to become a better achiever. You don’t have to accept your past performance as a measure of your future performance! Here are some suggestions for becoming a better achiever.

  • Don’t wait for the organization to figure out your motivators. Some people believe it’s the organization’s responsibility to understand them well enough to know what makes them tick, and then provide just the right incentives to motivate them properly. Yes, it’s good for leaders to be empathetic, but an organization can’t possibly develop the sensibilities to understand the psychology of every individual. You’ll have to wait a millennium for that.
  • Keep in mind that a person’s motivation can change over time. One woman after being surveyed was highly motivated to seek recognition and responsibility early in her career, but now she was more interested in the organization being responsive to her needs and preferences. Her motivation had changed based on her circumstances and stage of life. This could happen to you, as well. As we move through different stages of life, our needs and preferences change. So, too, do our motivations to achieve. Your motivation to achieve is not cast in concrete. It’s dynamic. Expect it to change.
  • Don’t confuse the motivation to achieve with the high need for achievement that is an unhealthy addiction in some people. For people afflicted with this addiction, achievement doesn’t bring the normal rewards. Rather, it brings relief in the accomplishment of tasks. Moving immediately to the next task on the list, they never enjoy accomplishments for long. This creates a vicious cycle marked by a feeling of little or no real sense of purpose in career and life. This negative cycle is based on achieving for the wrong reasons, and it results in a serious imbalance.

In some cases, achievement can become a selfish activity, driven by ego or insecurity, in which people obsess about building a resume of accomplishments as a sole means of showcasing themselves. In this case, as well, the motivation is off the mark. I believe achievement is a moral obligation, that people have a responsibility to develop their potential, and the search for pleasure can quickly become meaningless. At some point, our ability to contribute to others is based on the cultivation of our talents. Achievement brings greater depth and breadth to our offerings.

Why Do People Pass Up an Opportunity to Achieve?

There are lots of reasons, but one of the biggest is that they simply don’t believe they can do it. They lack confidence. It is certainly rational to avoid trying to do something you can’t do in order to conserve time and effort and avoid frustration and discouragement. The problem is that we don’t really know if we can do things before trying. A lack of confidence leads to wrong thinking, inaction, and ultimately disengagement toward the achievement path you are looking for.

The process of achievement consists of hundreds, even thousands, of success moments linked together. Yet for some, the fear of failure keeps them on the couch. The only way to gain confidence is to gather the courage to take action. For instance, what’s the most harmful thing a depressed person can do? The answer is nothing. He can’t do anything.

Confidence is a drip-fed process. You can talk about it all you want, but you can’t actually get confidence until you take the risk of venturing forward into the unknown. Norman Vincent Peale said, “Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different actions or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all.”

Achieving is something you learn. Once you learn it, you grow familiar with it. Once you grow familiar with it, you expect it. It is no longer a surprise. When achieving becomes familiar, it actually can become a habit.

“Life is a change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” —Karen Kaiser Clark

Qandeel Tejani is the Client Facilitation manager at Learning Minds Group (LMG). She has completed her Masters in Human Resources, and has a personal interest in motivating youth to become better leaders for tomorrow. She can be reached at

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