by TJ McCue
1. They laugh — at themselves. And with others.
2. “They steal stuff.”
I have to come clean right here. This post is completely inspired by Penelope Trunk and her blog post: 15 Things Overachievers Do. Her post is way better, filled with links, and you need to read it, in full, to start 2013 off properly. Link at the end of this post, too, since I hope you’ll read to the end and then go visit her site and post. I find most of her career posts a huge breath of fresh air in a world of stale content. She has a great sense of humor, too.
Continuing the #2 item, overachievers know they have plenty of ideas, says Penelope, so they don’t care if people take their ideas. And they bend the rules to make their own lives better. They know that ideas are a dime-a-dozen, really, and that execution is what matters.
So, when she says they steal stuff, she is talking about how people build, iterate, incubate on ideas. It is #15 on her list. Like me, for instance, I borrowed a number of Penelope’s ideas, but rounded them out with my own thoughts and attempts at humor.
3. They are notorious list makers. Sometimes they make lists after they complete the task so they can enjoy that feeling of greater productivity. I’m not sure if list makers are more successful in life, but I believe they have more fun putting sticky notes on everything.
4. Their desk is usually clean and everything is organized. They love IKEA because they can buy lots of organizing bins and boxes.
5. They don’t mind when a door shuts. They know that a window might be open. Or they go buy a DeWalt Sawzall and make a door. Seriously, Penelope points out that go-getters know that life is about tough choices sometimes and you have to be willing to give up one thing in order to get something else. Great link on this one, by the way about “Don’t Tell Me You’re Busy” (link below).
6. They are not shy about their weaknessesbecause they are uber-confident in their strengths. Every strength comes with a weakness and if you can share that awareness, that wisdom, with potential employers, or your employees if it is your company, then people will see you as a real person.
7. They get tons of mentoring or coaching. They seek out mentors. Overachievers know that top athletes have coaches for a reason. To get to the top of your game, you need help. You don’t get there alone. They are willing to pay for someone to push them.
8. They don’t write books. The book industry is dead, Penelope reminds us. She points out a post by my Forbes colleague Suw Charman-Anderson:Amazon Is Ripe For Disruption. People who have something to share are putting those thoughts down in blogs. Or, in my mind, in ebooks. Of course, I’m a bit biased as I’m finally finishing a simple book I’m publishing on the Kindle platform about building websites. I’m hoping that books are not yet dead.
9. They don’t let themselves get
fat soft. Soft in any sense of the word. They work out regularly, fanatically, and they take care of their bodies and minds. 12/30/2012 update: My conscience bothered me. My goal in any of my writing is to uplift and encourage people. So I edited this section. My intent was not to target people who are overweight, myself included, but more appropriate is type-A personalities don’t let themselves get soft, in any way, if they can avoid it. You can be skinny and soft, by the way.
10. They like to start things. They like saying they are the “founder” of a project or company or initiative. I’ve seen many overachievers lay claim to being the founder of a hashtag. You know those Twitter tags, such as, #SmallBusiness or #Journalism or #Marketing. Their ego and confidence allows them to take ownership of things that can’t possibly be owned. Many of them love to finish things, too.
11. They ask about you so they can get a turn to talk about themselves. As Bette Midler said as one of her characters after talking about herself for a long time, “Enough about me; What do you think about me?” Ha. They do thrive on being able to tell of their exploits — that’s half the reason (or more) for why they do them. Time is not money; Time is Life. When you listen to an overachiever, you have a choice: You can either hate them or be inspired to your own greatness by listening to all they have achieved.
12. (Speaking about Goals) They are rabid about lists because they are crazy about achieving their goals. Uh, hello, that’s why the word “over” is in front of achiever. They have a bucket list for life, for each year, and perhaps each week. Many of their goals include a fair amount of adventure-seeking and the stuff that takes them out of their comfort zone. Because that’s where stuff gets done — outside the comfort zone.
13. They have an “I Love Me” wall in their home or office. That’s what we used to call it when I was in the US Air Force. Every officer or NCO that had an office would have all of their awards and commendations displayed for all to see. Awards are like a list in 3D — you can hang that item on the wall instead of checking it off a list.
But this award mania isn’t bad — it is one of the ways overachievers keep score for themselves. They are out to change the world. And, in reality, the best and brightest overachievers are not competing with you, but only themselves. They are happy for you to succeed and often want to help you achieve, too. Just as long as you spend a bit of time listening to how they helped you get there…
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