How To Set The Bar High And Not Die Trying To Get Over It

Most high-performers are addicts.

Our drug of choice? Achievement. We crave more, bigger, faster.

When you base your self-worth on what you achieve, you end up achieving a lot very quickly.

But there’s a dark side to obsessive drive. Most high-achievers are fueled by fear of abandonment. It's what keeps us performing at a high level, but it's also what prevents us from reaching our fullest potential.

We hold part of ourself - our biggest dreams and our darkest fears - back from the world. Because if we put it all out there and got rejected, that would really suck.

So instead we keep achieving, and achieving, and achieving. As if somehow our achievements will make us whole. 

Here's why that's a mistake... 

Most people think that high-performers have a gift.

But high performers don’t have a gift, they are the gift. It is not their skill but their character that makes them great.

If you have a gift, it’s easy to believe you could lose that gift at any moment. So you clutch tighter. If you are the gift, you can finally let go and be yourself, knowing that your desire to grow and improve will always be there.

You can’t perform at a high level overtime by clutching. That’s how you get headaches. It’s how you get sick. It’s how you burn out and lose passion for what you do.

No. In order to be the best, you have to let go. And letting go starts with buying into one core concept:

Your value doesn’t come from what you do. It comes from who you are. In other words, you are inherently valuable.

Most of us are secretly convinced that if we fail – if the wall comes down and reveals our broken selves – the people we love will leave us.

So we gather accolades like armor. We maintain the veneer. We think the only way to live is to set the bar so high that we die trying to get over it.

I’m calling bullshit.

The people who really love us don’t leave when we fail. They move closer.

If you like to aim high, that’s awesome. I am not advocating lowering the bar. What I’m advocating is a different kind of jump. One that isn’t driven by fear.

When I go over that bar, I want to do it with an open heart. Lifted up by the people I love. Huge goddamn smile on my face.

So: how do you clear the bar without dying?

You stop worrying about the bar.

(Photo credit: Thomas Levinson via cc)