Success in any field, be that sports, work, relationships, parenting, or weight loss, all have their similarities in how your outcome is determined.
One thing is for sure, you can’t force a great outcome.
You have to work on it diligently, carefully, and with your full passion. Just because you work harder on something doesn’t mean you’re going to succeed and achieve your desired goals.
The opposite can often be the case.
Pushing yourself too hard and for too long can result in physical and mental burnout, leading to considerable setback periods.
In addition, if you’re an overachiever, want people to think:
- You work harder than anyone else
- You’re the best parent ever
- You excel at your fitness regime
… you can end up being seen as a pain in the butt.
Even if you have the best intentions and really could do a better job than someone else, your counterpart will always have an entirely different agenda and angle than you.
I’m guilty of this several times in my life. Many times I was on the cusp of getting a project I really liked and knew I’d do an amazing job.
In the beginning I’d always win.
In my initial meetings, I’d manage to make a good impression and convince the other side that I’m the man.
But then my mistakes would creep into the equation. I’d become too pushy, asking for quick confirmation to get started to not lose time.
On several occasions, I was so close, that I could smell the project was mine, but my head would get ahead of me, projecting myself too strongly on the other party.
Suddenly and unexpectedly things went silent. I wouldn’t receive the anticipated positive confirmation email or call, resulting in me becoming upset with the other side.
I’d display more impatience by sending several reminder emails, to the point where I’d finally receive a reply saying, we don’t think we are aligned or a good match!
This left me gobsmacked, angry, and completely frustrated with the situation, and the counterparty. I’d wonder what the heck I’d done wrong for it all to go so wrong.
My answer was the same:
It can’t be me, it’s them, they don’t get me, they are scared I’m better than them, which, of course, would make them look bad towards their superiors.
Best to save face and not give me the project then?
My behavior made them shift their mindset and opinion of me.
I was too anxious, I clearly came across as pushy, maybe to the point that I appeared desperate to get the job. That scares and turns people off.
Putting others under pressure, to get what you want, quickly, is counterproductive and usually ends with it all blowing up in your face.
Of course, there can also be other issues going on behind the scenes, such as the budget being too small, they decided to back out and not take the risk, etc.
A classic example I experienced in my skiing career in the 1988 Winter Olympics.
There I was at age 18 competing in alpine skiing. I was the youngest in the field, the stage was set but scary, and now I had to prove my coaches made the right decision to send me to the Olympics.
The pressure to succeed was on and heavy.
After 10 days of training at the venue, my first discipline, Giant Slalom, came around. The weather was awful, the terrain was steep and icy, with visibility down to around 10 to 15 yards.
Off I went, leaping into the race with full determination. I pushed and pulled myself around so hard, it didn’t take long before I missed a gate and bombed out.
Damn, that was an embarrassment. 2 days later, I only had the slalom left.
During the next 2 days, I backed off the training, started to enjoy myself more around the Olympic Village, meeting fellow athletes from other countries, and watched a bunch of competitions.
I even managed to meet Katarina Witt, then World Figure Skating Champion and Olympic favorite, competing for East Germany.
That was a cool meetup, it was just a shame she had 3 bulky bodyguards accompanying her!
My step to success.
At this point, I’d let down my guard, and I didn’t care too much about the outcome. Instead, I focused on enjoying myself and took the upcoming race in my stride.
I’ll even admit I was naughty. The night before the Olympic Slalom event, I was in the village disco, dancing and drinking a good few beers. I may have gotten to sleep around midnight.
The ride up to the hill was at 6 am the next morning, so I definitely wasn’t fresh or my fittest.
Once again, the weather sucked, it was snowing like crazy, which made the steep slalom course extremely hard to navigate.
After around 20 competitors had skied the course, deep ruts appeared on all the turns.
Put it this way, starting with bib number 63 wasn’t an easy task. It was a miracle I made it down and with a decent time.
Qualified for the second and final run, in position number 30, I blasted down the hill, hit a very respectable time, and came in an overall 21st. A finish and ranking nobody expected from me.
Fun fact: I held this British record until the last Olympics in China, in 2022.
No stress, no pressure = success.
That’s what I learned that day. I’d definitely put in the time and work with my training to get to where I was. I simply had to get my mind to back off, let me breathe, and stop pushing myself too hard to perform well.
As soon as I let things go, lived and laughed, everything came together way better than I could have ever expected it to.
It’s important to work hard, be efficient and competitive at what you do. However, it’s equally important to not push yourself too hard and come across as an overachiever.
Nobody likes overachievers.
When I meet one these days, I cringe at the arrogance they tend to display. When I think that was how I used to behave, well, I try to eliminate that thought as quickly as I can to stop shaking my head at myself.
Everyone goes through many changes and challenges, both in work and life, and a lot of the time they can be unpleasant realities.
However, as long as you’ve put in the work, done your homework, are confident and relaxed about yourself, you can achieve whatever you want, no matter how hard it may seem.
The more I write the better I get, the more I coach on nutrition and training the better I get.
The result? More positive developments and opportunities appear.
Keep up the good work, folks, but worry less and be kind to and patient with yourself — success will follow.
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