High-achievers, to state the obvious, are focused on achievement. They thrive on setting and reaching the tangible results – the top producer award, the record-breaking deal, the corner office – of their hard work, discipline and perseverance.

Leave Your Ego Out Of It

No question, knowing what your desired outcome is clarifies your direction and fires up your motivation. Putting your focus on achieving a specific outcome, however, is an ineffective way to achieve it. Doing so creates internal pressure, bringing your ego into the equation (rarely helpful) and, more importantly, prevents you from focusing on the behaviors that will actually produce the result.

Take, for example, a tennis player who’s thinking: “I have to win this point.” His body will tense up and he’ll become tentative, focused on not making a mistake rather than on what he needs to do to win the point – “eye on the ball, follow through, etc.”

It’s the same in business: winning the case, closing the deal, snagging the promotion – these are end results that are, ultimately, out of your control (oops, you thought otherwise?).

Of course, your actions can influence the outcome, but trying to control anything other than your thoughts and actions is a waste of time and energy.


1. Focus on process.

What actions can you take on a regular basis that are likely to cause your desired outcome? Closing the deal, for example, translates into clear communication, solutions focus, rigorous analysis; meeting your sales quota means effective cold-calling, consistent follow-through, disciplined tracking.

The greater the pressure, the more relentlessly you need to focus on process goals.

2. Focus on progress.

When was the last time you had a huge breakthrough at work? If you’re like most people, high-achiever or not, it wasn’t that recent.

But that’s okay because research shows that, of all the events that have the power to excite people, engage them in their work (and help them handle pressure), the single most important is making progress – even if that progress is a small win.

Come up with a creative solution or solve a tricky problem? No win is too small to celebrate.


I’ll be back tomorrow with a lesson on why you may be headed for burnout — and how to avoid it.

See you then,


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