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  • Writer's pictureTerry Dockery


The next time you pass the mirror, take a closer look. Are you suffering from High Achiever’s Disease? Here are the telltale symptoms:

  • You have achieved a high level of success in other people’s eyes

  • You have an almost constant need for a high level of activity and excitement; i.e. an “adrenaline junkie”

  • You become anxious or uncomfortable if you find yourself relaxing or “doing nothing”

  • You find yourself putting out crisis “fires” often

  • You know you’re not as focused as you could be, but you generally resist attempts to get you better organized because of it “cramps your style”

  • Your personal success goals are fuzzy moving targets; i.e., “I’ll know it when I get there”

If these symptoms sound familiar, you may share a syndrome that I see frequently among business owners, CEO’s, division presidents, and other high achievers. These folks are “driven” people who seem to be constantly in a state of frenetic activity.

They typically have trouble relaxing and keeping their lives in balance. Often they seem to be in perpetual motion, running away from some vague negative “demon” rather than running toward a specific positive objective. The casual observer might even think that they value a high level of activity more than actual results. If High Achiever’s Disease is not addressed appropriately, trouble will follow soon.

Example: John was an entrepreneur determined to make his new business a success. Early in the life of his venture, he likened it to a ship: “This boat is going to be moving so fast that there is no way it could sink.” He worked extremely long hours and made many sacrifices to make sure his prophecy came true, and in doing so he showed all the classic signs of High Achiever’s Disease.

Some years later John had built a very successful business that had brought him a sound level of financial success. However, his anxious and frenetic pace and his singular focus on the business had left him with little time to take care of himself and the other facets of his life. He was drinking too much, he had gained so much weight that his health was at risk, and he was in serious danger of losing his marriage.

It is self evident that these additional negative outcomes were not a part of John’s original vision of success. Learn from John’s mistakes and avoid High Achiever’s Disease; be proactive and create your own personal definition of true success.


Technique #1: Remember that at some point in the past you started out to create a happy and rich life for yourself. Are you are still on that path?

Technique #2: Live a full and balanced life. The Greeks said “All things in moderation,” and I say that if you are overemphasizing one important aspect of your life, then you are probably avoiding another.

Technique #3: If you have a “demon” chasing you, stop running long enough to have a chat with it and determine whether it really wants to hurt you (enlist a qualified “demon exorcist” if necessary).

Technique #4: Beware defining who you are primarily by your career or your money; it’s like building your home on shifting sand.

Technique #5: Work smart; have a clear and unambiguous definition of success so you will recognize the address when you’ve arrived.

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