Have you ever wondered why a certain person does so well in everything? They seem to be good at English and maths and science and even art. I bet those people make you annoyed, angry even. But have you ever stopped to think about why? Why do their achievements make you angry? Why do you never achieve the same? But mainly why are they so goddamn good at everything???
I am going to do my best to try and explain to you this last question. Why are high achievers high achievers? What do they all have in common? And how do you become a high achiever yourself?
For the purposes of this article I’m going to group people into two categories: Achievement motivated individuals (AMIs) and failure-avoiding individuals (FAIs). Be honest with yourself, which category do you belong to at the moment?
Ferg and Jesse have talked no end about the importance of goal setting and being achievement oriented so I am going to assume you know all about this and jump straight into it!
You might have heard before that the first step to solving a problem is identifying the issues you face. Hopefully after reading this you will be able to identify in what areas you are an FAI and take the necessary steps to become an AMI.
Writing from the perspective of a high achiever myself I can tell you that the following information isn’t just a random bunch of facts from various surveys and psychological studies that you don’t understand. These are the very essential qualities that all high achievers share, no matter what area they are in.
We have an incredible NEED to win
I’m not talking about motivating factors like marks or ATARs here. Sometimes there is no such motivating factor but regardless there is this burning need to do well, to beat yourself, to do the absolute maximum you can possibly do. Trying to describe this is hard but I think the best example is: imagine a situation where how you perform doesn’t matter. It doesn’t affect you academically, financially or socially, it has no implications for your family or necessarily even your future. Do you still experience this desire to outperform your previous achievements or others? Do you still spend a significant amount of time thinking about how to do this and put in an honest 100%?
- If you answered yes to those questions then you are one step ahead, you are an AMI, all you need to become a high achiever is harness that NEED and use it to propel you forward.
We enjoy the challenge
A challenge is a tricky situation, a bit of a gamble, a double edged sword. On one hand you can overcome it but on the other hand there is always that risk that you will ‘fail’.
There is no such thing as ‘failure’.
Every experience is either a success or a learning experience.
And here is the crux. High achievers DON’T BELIEVE IN FAILURE. They believe in trying again and again until they succeed. Sometimes it is actually this first initial defeat which gives you that extra push, the extra motivation you need. And it is this challenge of doing better next time that high achievers relish. And that feeling of overcoming the challenge is indescribable.
- Now think to yourself how would an FAI react to the same scenario? Are you an AMI or an FAI in this point?
- We are never satisfied with our achievements
I know what you are thinking, what a pretentious thing to say. How can you not be satisfied with your achievements when everyone else is jealous of them? I don’t know the answer to that question. But we’re not. In our minds there is always something we could have done extra, better, faster…
It is infuriating to rationally know that you should be really happy with an achievement and yet your brain is telling you all the ways you weren’t good enough. But it is exactly this thought process that makes us work so hard and harder still next time…
- Are you an FAI in this point? I’ll make it easy for you, if you were incredulous when you read the title of this point and don’t really understand what I am talking about then yep, that is a characteristic of an FAI.
We never admit defeat
I know I have already covered this point to an extent above but I think it is a fundamental quality that you need to have in order to keep you going in the face of adversity. This is very much a mindset, a way of thinking. And as you might know, our ways of thinking are determined when we are very young and so are difficult to change. Nevertheless, if you want to be the best you simply have to lose this self-depreciative attitude. It doesn’t do you, your friends, family or colleagues any good. So make a commitment to yourself that from today onwards you will stop seeing setbacks as failures and negative experiences. Look at them in a positive light (easier said than done, I know) and your life will get easier and more positive. Guaranteed.
- For the purposes of your HSC course if you ever, after reading this, utter the phrases “I can’t do this” or “I’m not an English/maths/science/art person” you are an FAI and have accepted defeat and the belief that your achievements are determined by your skills or situations out of your control. Two notes on that: skills can improve and enjoy the challenge of trying to overcome situations out of your control– go back to point two for a refresher.
Our passion and drive inspires others
You know that a person is passionate about something when they start talking about it and their whole face lights up. Its like they had a shot of some magical potion that gives them extra confidence and allure. Do you know why these people suddenly become more alluring? Simply their passion inspires us. And once we are inspired, our interests become aligned and they become that much more powerful and inspiring in our eyes (for my bio students I would say this is a great example of positive feedback 😉 )
I’m not going to lie, I haven’t seen many students, even high achievers, passionate about subjects such as English or maths. In a school context, which you are all in, the fact that you lack passion for a subject doesn’t automatically doom you to doing badly. BUT, the students who do really well, the high band sixes, the first-in-states have at least an INTEREST in the subject. It is very hard to do exceptionally well if you don’t trick yourself into thinking something is interesting.
From a personal experience I hated year 11 english and honestly didn’t do very well in it either. But in year 12 I summoned some sort of interest and this combined with my NEED to win was the potent combination which got me my high band six!
- It doesn’t matter if you hate a subject. To turn yourself from an FAI into an AMI make yourself see it as interesting and it will become easier to get the marks you want.
Finally, we thrive in competition
For me personally this is, hands down, the biggest driver.
The thought of other people doing something better than me makes me angry. And what I have learnt to do is harness this anger and any other emotions and use it to beat them.
- If you are an FAI on this point, seek out and learn to enjoy competition. From experience I can tell you that it is very very powerful.
I look forward to seeing you all transform into AMIs as trials and the HSC creep closer and closer!