Archana Law examines the mindset of high achievers

What do actor Alec Baldwin, game show champion Ken Jennings and baseball icon Yogi Berra have in common? When Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield interviewed some of the world’s most successful people including actress Laura Linney, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and crossword mastermind Will Shortz, they began to see patterns emerge. No matter how diverse their goals or crafts are, these super achievers shared many of the same habits. Some of the common qualities that set them apart include the following.

They considered time as being a valuable and precious resource, and decided where to invest theirs. Goals were set and followed through. And decision making was crucial as was inculcating good habits and being in good company while maintaining their quest for learning.

These super achievers were also open to learning, believing that every moment has the potential of being an opportunity to grow. They sought and associated with like-minded people who wished to make something of their lives instead of merely muddling through. They wanted to make a difference – whether by helping others or giving a hundred percent to whatever they did.

Achievers are dedicated to their vision despite dark moments and flagging energy that tests their endurance. They remain intelligently flexible, ready to tweak something that’s not working.

These people can foster a community by galvanising an ecosystem of supporters around their idea or goal. They manage their emotions and refuse to be derailed by setbacks. Instead, they channel their anger and frustration into work. Their belief that they’ll succeed eventually leads them to success.

So what does research tell us about how high achievers really think? Are they born as achievement orientated individuals with a strong desire to accomplish something important? Or are they folks who avoid failure, and are more focussed on protecting themselves from the embarrassment and sense of incompetence that can accompany it?

Of course, achievement motivation versus failure avoidance motivation exists in a continuum described as Relative Motive Strength (RMS) with most of us falling somewhere in the middle!

An individual’s RMS does not exist in a vacuum; it is part of an elaborate mix of beliefs that justify the commitment of intense effort toward goal achievement or the relative lack thereof.

They take complete responsibility for their actions and success, believing that they can improve their performance on demanding tasks with practice, training, dedication to learning and coaching.

Everyone talks about setting and achieving goals. Goals don’t have to be only about obligations, res­ponsibilities or burdens; nor should they be limited to fixing what we lack! Goals are aspirations where we aim to become more than what we’re today, reaching above and beyond.

Here is a helpful technique from neurolinguistic programming to help us achieve our goals: align your image to the goal you set. For example, if you want to be successful in life with a higher income but subconsciously continue to perceive yourself as someone who is unworthy of making that kind of money, you would be sabotaging your aspirations. As Pogo in the comic strip said: “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

However, if you’re more confident and believe that being successful is not only possible but also that you are prepared to wait for your opportunity, you have a much better chance of achieving your goal.

When you continually focus on problems, you pay more attention to what’s wrong and unwanted rather than what you desire. Instead, by focussing on the outcome, you pay attention to the results you wish to see and their impact, and what resources are required to produce them.

The power to attain what you want to achieve is all in the mind – specifically the subconscious. If your subconscious holds a belief that is contrary to your goal, you face an uphill battle and will likely miss the target you’ve set. But once your subconscious is in sync with your goals, you have a powerful ally that’s fully motivated to see that the external world conforms to your new self-image. Pursuing your goal is no longer drudgery or a battle – in fact, it can become fun!

To have what you want to have and do what you want to do, you must first become who you need to be. Many of life’s failures are “people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up,” opined Thomas Edison who is almost as famous for lauding perspiration as he is for inventing the light bulb we take for granted today.

In a global marketplace where innovation is more critical to viability than ever before, there’s an urgency to identify and eventually cultivate the elements of success.