Forbes India asked me to decode why overachievers often trip before reaching the pinnacle of their careers. If you have the time, do read that piece here.
Meanwhile, here are my lessons, based on years of working closely with some of these great people; my 13 Golden Rules. If you are an overachiever (invariably you know) do read this one here. If you know someone who is, pass it along.
What Overachievers Can Do To Save Themselves
Overachievers are their best own friends and worst enemies. They do not need external forces to bring them to their knees. Too many of them do it to themselves. Here are 13 golden rules from Subroto Bagchi that can help them last longer and not come in their own way.
- Pace yourself: for a great professional, it is a marathon. Your work will spread over at least 40 years. Don’t burn at both ends of the candle. Be authentic, know that life has a larger purpose to achieve through you; using your ability to achieve, life wants to make an impact. Therefore, don’t be under any pressure to prove your one-upmanship to someone. Your talents are not meant to be gunpowder in the barrel of your ego.
- I always think of myself as a municipal water pipe. My job is to deliver the water, not quench my own thirst. My position and my authority are not meant for my gratification. Yes, they feel good. But I must know that they are not for personal consumption.
- I must own failures but deflect the success. This is the best way to create greater success. When I own failure, I learn valuable lessons; this process pre-supposes reflective space and that slows me down deep within; it is a very important part of regeneration. When I deflect success I no longer carry its burden. Success is heavy, we have just two shoulders.
- I must not trivialize my screw ups. I should relive them in my mind and seek forgiveness. Great people say sorry.
- Every overachiever very well knows the difference between the right and the convenient. In 98% cases, a CEO does not need a lawyer to tell him what the right thing to do is. Yet, sometimes, even the best among us fall prey to temptation: a fling, a bribe, waving a due diligence, a seemingly harmless favour from a supplier….anything. We are all human. So it is alright to be tempted but not alright to fall to the subsequent indiscretion. The trick is to pick up the phone when temptation begins and speak to someone with no vested interest in the matter and ideally, someone with a higher reputation capital than you. Ask for advice. When you do, make sure you give all the facts, not the biases.
- When people who have loved you a lot for a long time bring forth a cautionary note, please pay attention to it. It is life showing you the yellow card.
- What is common between politician ND Tiwari, self-styled Godman Nityananda, Straus-Kahn, Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods? High testosterone. This is a very common phenomenon among alpha males and history is replete with examples of countless powerful people fall, starting from the demon Mahishasura who even the Gods feared! Sexual proclivity beyond the ordinary is a disorder that can be treated with medicine and counselling. Zipper control can keep you longer at your job.
- Do not con yourself. No one can argue with a high achiever; many have the gift of gab. They think brilliantly and often come to a conclusion first, and then they retrofit the justification. Then they psych themselves. Reasoning does not work anymore. The argument and their chosen path of action look perfect in every which way. Then the man just steps into obscurity.
- A lot of overachievers get carried away with public rewards and recognitions. Trophy hunting overshadows real work. Beware, much of the reward and recognition business in the world is shallow, many are a business unto themselves and some, are a downright racket. Do the work; the recognition will follow.
- My dad always told me one thing: you are known by the company you keep. If you hang out with the wrong guys – seemingly harmlessly — and just for a few times for fun and then one day you seek to draw the line, it wouldn’t work. The wrong guy will return.
- Do not live on your professional fame alone. Keep a backup. One day you will need it. This is important for people who are to hang their boots in the next 5, 6, 10 years.
- Leave with grace. Do not cling on to your name, fame, role, and office, whatever. Leave gently, a little before you are asked to go. If things get difficult, go with grace. Do not immolate yourself in the town-square and ask people to come, watch. It makes for news only for that day.
- Last but not the least, pray. It keeps you subordinate to a larger power and that helps in a crisis. If you believe in God, use the toll-free number; know that it gets disconnected if not used periodically.
Atheists: just follow rule 1 to 12.