Many high achievers can be identified from an early age. Like everything else they do, high achievers tend to be ahead of the curve. A high achiever is defined as a person who is, “motivated by the prospect of accomplishing something important and making a difference, both in their own and other people’s lives.” It makes sense why high achievers are so highly sought after in business and life. However, there is a dark side to the high-achieving life. Typically, high achievers also experience a high degree of mental stress because of the pressures they put on themselves which can lead to burnout. In addition to burnout, high achievers also tend to struggle with perfectionism and imposter syndrome which might make them downplay or avoid their problems. Often high achievers become so depended on in their work life and personal life, that they also struggle from the pressure to consistently meet high standards placed on them by themselves and others. Management Magazine says, “overachievers say yes more, even when at full capacity. They routinely put work first, before self-care.” All of us need a strong support system to be the best version of ourselves. As the saying goes, no one is an island. The above reasons show why high achievers can often self-manage themselves in many ways. Ultimately, however, the reality is that even high achievers also need the help of a strong support system.
So what defines a strong support system? University of the People defines a support system as, “a group of people who provide you with mental, emotional, and practical support when you need it most. They also help keep you going strong when you’re doing well.” A professional coach is one important link in a support group chain, but others in your support group could include a mentor, co-workers, other professionals, and friends. As Dr, Julia Hood states, “While it is important to do some things on your own, having a support system that is there for you when things get tough is critical to maintaining your mental and physical health. To really make strides in improving yourself or building new skills you must ensure you have the right people surrounding you.” A 2020 article asserts, “Many people assume that highly successful people are naturally more put together and mentally healthy, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Your road to success has likely had many snags along the way; you have a right to address these hardships.” Even if you feel mentally strong now, the toll of a high achiever’s lifestyle can affect you in other ways as well: “You might experience changes in appetite, difficulty sleeping, and trouble maintaining healthy relationships. As you become more overwhelmed, you may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drugs or alcohol. As a high-achiever, you’ve placed an expectation on yourself to succeed — no matter what. Eventually, this pressure may catch up to you and affect your emotional, mental, and physical health.” A strong support system helps to ground the burnt-out high achiever and could quite literally save your life. VeryWellMind asserts, “Social support also helps people to cope with stress. Stress has been shown to have serious health consequences ranging from reduced immunity to increased risk of heart disease. Research has also shown that having strong social support in times of crisis can help reduce the consequences of trauma-induced disorders including PTSD.” The American Psychological Association says, “though it may seem counterintuitive, having strong social support can actually make you more able to cope with problems on your own, by improving your self-esteem and sense of autonomy.” So even lone-wolf high achievers could see improvements in their professional and personal life by utilizing a strong support system. The APA also has many helpful suggestions on how to grow your support system such as following your interests and seeking peer support.
High achievers are good at almost everything they do because they work hard and they’re naturally self-motivated. However, even high achievers can benefit from a strong support system, just like everyone else. The leap from high achieving to truly spectacular may be the difference between a strong support system and a weak one. Take a look at your support system today and determine if you’re getting the support you need to achieve the goals you have set out for yourself.