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Confessions of a needy overachiever

Posted by Meg Bear on September 18, 2009


2842830409_c270191833By now you all realize I’m a bit of a Hermione Granger, overachieving, overdoing, inclined to study for tests that aren’t ever going to happen.

I cannot remember a time when this was not true.  All I can tell you is that this is not something I try to do, this is something I cannot keep myself from doing.  It is core to my personality.

I am also quite aware of how annoying this can be to the rest of the population.  I actually spend time worrying about how my need to overachieve, might make others annoyed and attempt to hide achievements at times.  I know, its odd, what can I say?

In recent weeks, I’ve been noticing a few things that are not so obvious byproducts  of this personality core.

  1. I do not like to be threatened to do something — very strangely, if you point out something you need from me I will do everything I can to get it done for you.  Even if it’s only a secondary or tertiary kind of priority.  If I can achieve it I will.  No questions asked.  BUT if you threaten me to do it, I will respond in the opposite.  I will actually get rebellious and combative.  I’m sure this is an overreaction to the kind of respect I feel I should get for the overachieving side, but it’s there just the same.  As you can imagine this could be [is] wildly career limiting at times.
  2. I need to be recognized — this one is a little more complex than it sounds.  Ironically, in this area I don’t really need to be recognized personally.  I take it as a given that I will want to overachieve, and as long as there is a slight nod to the fact that I’m doing well, it’s all good.  BUT when it comes to my products I actually need to be LOVED.  I get real joy from being able to create something that  meets the needs of the customer, in a way that gets them excited.  It is that excitement, that practical sense that we have met the goal of a product release, that keeps me going.

Without positive feedback on my products, I get a bit cranky and depressed.  When positive feedback comes, I feel joy and purpose.  I can’t really imagine being in a job where I don’t get that kind of recognition, since it really sustains me.  This is probably why I’ve kept at this job for such a long time.

Yes, this does make me needy, but it is a need to be useful.  The need to put my core overachieving self to use on something that actually matters.  For without that I am just working hard and frankly I’m not a fan of the work, I’m a fan of the results.

What about you?  What is the thing that really keeps you going?

4 Responses to “Confessions of a needy overachiever”

  1. Louise Barnfield said

    It’s not just you Meg, I don’t think those ‘byproducts’ are particularly unusual or limited to your overachieving personality.🙂 I think it’s pretty natural to react adversely if threatened to do something, as opposed to requested. I know I do! …or does that make me strange too? …on second thoughts, don’t answer that!😉
    I’m certainly needy…I need to be needed!🙂 If I have some knowledge or ability that can help someone else, then doing so (and seeing the positive outcome) definitely floats my boat.

  2. I think wanting appreciation is at the core of talent management, really. It’s what makes most people tick. Resisting threats is the other side of that, I think you put it well when you said it’s a reaction that stems from the respect you think you have earned through over-achieving. Everyone wants appreciation, people who are really good at what they do (and know it) demand it.

  3. […] reminded, while reading Kris Dunn’s Hr Technology ® Shootout rundown, of the traps that we overachieving developers can fall into when creating software.  […]

  4. websch said

    if you say your strange and awkwardly act then i am too

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