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Achievement Addiction

…they’re very, very smart. And they’ve learned at an early age to leverage that characteristic. I think that they are highly competitive. I think they’re impatient with other people and themselves. I think that in most everything they’ve done, they’ve been very successful. I think that they’re hungry for feedback, and mainly positive feedback. And they traditionally have overloaded agendas.

…And one of the dilemmas and the characteristics of these individuals is that when everything’s going fine, everything’s going fine. But when they hit a blip or they feel overloaded or they can’t do things in terms of the quality that they want to do them, rather than saying well, I just can’t deal with these, what happens is they overreact and start to say very, very negative things to themselves about why did I choose this job, I’m failing at this, my home life isn’t what I wanted it to be, I’m not living in the city. So they really create a kind of a catastrophic picture. And clearly, this 43-year-old headmaster had done that. So the dilemma is once they get stuck and feel that way about themselves, clearly what they do is they manipulate their environment to get some positive feedback. And then they jump right back to where they were before.

…early on, they figured out that they had this drive. And I think they began to leverage it. And they also began to compete. And it’s not just to be number one once or twice, but it’s to be number one all the time. And so what happens gradually is that the external criteria for success becomes the norm. So we’re not looking at our own talents and saying, how have I grown and developed these talents that I’ve realized over the years? What I do is I say, well, when I go to this five-year reunion, how am I going to compare with all those people that I competed with? And so it’s that success is only defined in terms of how I do based on other people. And that, in itself, becomes addictive and becomes its own pattern.

Via The Hidden Demons of High Achievers

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