Are You a High Performer?

Being a high performer has its pitfalls.

If you are a long term fan of personal development and achievement work like I am, then there is probably a very high chance that you are also a perfectionist and overachiever.  Many of us seem to be “hardwired” within our DNA to always be achieving and doing.

Early On

I remember from childhood the awareness of wanting to be perfect.  Leaving the house for school until my clothes were matched and my hair was parted with perfection and sprayed into place was not an option! I always prided myself on my perfection and got lots of praise from parents and teachers alike from my scholarly achievements and organization in my academic endeavors.

Many of us are just born to be natural achievers and “go-getters” and then many of us learn to achieve through positive reinforcement and receiving praise because of what we “do” early in life.  This pattern, once established, carries through into adulthood and beyond.

The Dilemma

Being a high performer is a lofty goal and a worthy pursuit, not doubt.  I do not know a single coach that does not talk about performance and the importance of cultivating empowering habits as a key to creating lasting success.  But, with high performance does come pitfalls and drawbacks.  Enter perfectionism.

Perfectionism can go one of two ways from my experience and vantage point.  The first way is a path forward to action, efficiency and effectiveness.  Being aware of the task at hand and genuinely wanting to do the best you can and being attentive to detail.  This path is great and breeds much success.  The second way is the path to inaction.  This is when perfectionism causes you to stall, shut down, or become downright paralyzed with confusion, apathy or procrastination.


This second route has at its core, the frequency of FEAR.  One is fear of not receiving praise.  Fear of not being good enough.  Fear of failure and fear of rejection or ridicule.  The reason that this second way that perfectionism expresses itself is so deceptive and ultimately disempowering is that it disguises itself.  I hides as something that most of us have been conditioned to believe is ideal, and that is that BEING PERFECT IS GOOD.

Because fear is sneaky it can take on many forms that aren’t always immediately identifiable as fear such as procrastination or confusion.  If we are feeling fearful of being judged or coming across as incompetent or unprepared, then of course we are not going to feel comfortable.  We certainly will not feel safe taking action or being seen.

The Shift

The first step to shifting your perfectionism away from sabotage, paralysis, procrastination and fear is to identify where you are stalling, explaining, or feeling unprepared.  Where are you unable to move forward in your life, business or relationships?

See if you, as a high performer, can pinpoint the flavor of your resistance.  Where is it coming from?  Do you have a memory of being humiliated as a child or adult? Did something go bad for you at some point because you felt rushed or unprepared?  Were you criticized for opening up and being vulnerable at some point?  Did you grow up in an overly strict household or school environment?

Pinpointing the first time you felt pressure to be perfect can be a huge help. This leads to learning how to shift perfectionism into a more empowering and effective state.  You may want to journal on this or mediate if you are struggling to make the connection.

(NOTE: many times we have suppressed memories or subconscious blocks from past failures, traumas, or even conditioning.  High performers especially can be unaware of these and they remain hidden from us until brought into our conscious awareness.  Working with a practitioner such as myself can help uncover and identify these blocks through an advanced technique called Theta Healing.  You can read more about my work and how Theta Healing could help you here).

A New Path Forward

And in my experience the best way forward as a perfectionist is to go forward!  Action is the best remedy for inaction.  I always ask myself this question once I have identified the source of my resistance or overwhelm.  “What is the absolute worst thing that could happen if I just do this thing?  What would happen if I just take this chance EVEN WHEN it feels messy or unsafe”?

Basically the truth is that your mind will come up with all sorts of doomsday scenarios and reasons why not being perfect or not waiting for the perfect time will result in disaster.  Honestly none of these made up worries are likely to ever occur.  Even if they did, everything will be alright!

People are not nearly as concerned with you coming across as perfect as YOU are!  And, here is the uncomfortable truth the ego is not going to like.  People are not paying as much attention to you being perfect or not as you are.  This one was a crushing blow to the image I had created for myself.  A big slice of humble pie no doubt!

The Takeaway

Do your best and just show up.  Let go of your expectations and images of perfection that you have of yourself.  Try to lose some of that conditioning from childhood that you learned to receive praise.  Additionally when you find yourself paralyzed or afraid to take action, acknowledge that it is OK that you feel that way and then find a way to shift your energy.  Get your mind off yourself and how you may look or not look and take any small action to get the momentum going in the right direction.

And do not forget to keep being a high performer!  Just now you will be a more educated and relaxed one :-).

I would also recommend watching the accompanying video to this post on my YouTube Channel HERE.