Dear Why Team member,
I hope this week’s message finds you well and will be a source of encouragement to you.
This week we consider what it means to be an:
Why do we describe anyone as an overachiever? A judgment cannot be made without a comparison. A person is an overachiever compared to what? An underachiever? Here is the definition I found on the web:
VERB - do better than is expected, especially in academic work.
"David continued to overachieve all through high school"(overachieving)be excessively dedicated to achieving success in one's work.
Hmm.. they used overachieving geeks as an example?!
Even though it’s a positive trait, more often than not, overachiever is used in a negative light- maybe to discount enhanced efforts that are calling the underachiever to higher ground?!Doesn’t it come down to intent?
Why an overachiever?
We may have at some point to be overachievers for selfish reasons - an easy trap to fall into because those who achieve a lot cannot help but feel good about the results born from their exceptional effort- but to sustain lasting extraordinary effort requires a shift, a shift from becoming more-for-self to becoming more-for-others. When we shift our Why beyond ourselves, possibilities expand to the point of limitless. Self focus is naturally limited to self, extended focus is limitless, calling one to become more, in order to give more, to causes greater than themselves, thus a natural tendency to over achieve. Those who under-achieve are in essence burying their gifts, not sharing them or allowing others to benefit from them, not developing them to a greater and greater capacity to have a greater and greater impact. Meaning and Purpose is the fuel of life. Who needs drugs when life can provide all the “high” one needs? If we but tap into Purpose found in serving others we can unlock our passions and interest and direct them into the life of another.
I’ll never forget the words I heard from a colleague many years ago, who was consoling me for just barely missing a salesman-of-the-year award. He said, “Steve, there is no award for those who help others, thank you for all you have done to help me”. Right then and there I moved beyond the glass; the glass awards that sit on my shelf. I do appreciate every award that I have received - especially the leadership awards - the last one I received came at a particularly difficult point in my life, when I really needed to be reminded that my contributions to life mattered, even though at that point in life it didn’t seem to matter to the ones closest to me but I have come to realize that I don’t need a piece of glass to know that. Each life matters and that realization comes more through relationships than though any specific recognition. Nothing has given me more satisfaction, and humbled me more, than to know my life has mattered to another. I think it comes from my Mom, who passed away on May 4th of 2016. She lived to serve and as a result found purpose in each new day even in the midst of living with a cancer she knew would take her life away. My Mom was an overachiever. Those who came to comfort her, found themselves comforted. What a gift she was and continues to be to our family and to everyone who was blessed to know her. I think it’s pretty amazing that this post began as an inquiry into why we judge anyone as an overachiever and here I find myself thinking and reflecting on the most constant overachiever I ever knew: my Mother; in that final year of her life battling cancer, she would hide her pain the moment one of her grandchildren entered the room. Why? Love!
Her greatest concern was for us, she was most concerned about us being sad and reassured us over and over that she was going to a better place and was looking forward to it. I often say my Mom went out like a Rock Star. Her belief was such a comfort to her and to all of us left behind.
Her final prayer was born out of the humbleness that characterized her since I can remember; she asked God to accomplish with her passing what He had yet to accomplish with her life.
I truly believe she was aware what an accomplishment her life was. She lived in great gratitude for life, especially her three grandchildren to whom she was certain was the why of her life and the why of all she had been through- to become the Grandmother she had become.
Was my mother an overachiever?
Could she have approached her life differently? Of course, but her generation, lost to so many of us today, approached others above self. And while that can be taken to an extreme and can be nothing more than another example of the ego: see me, woe is me, my mother did not complain neither did she boast. She was too busy living in gratitude and believed every day she was alive had a purpose, even if it was to shield us from her physical pain.
My mother lived and died on purpose!
Thank you Mom, God rest your soul.
This Mother’s Day, I hope you’ll call your Mom, I wish I could call mine.
And remember to seek out those who call you to higher ground - and if ever you are called an overachiever in service to others, I hope it brings a smile to your face.
Make it a great week!