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Three Myths about High Achievers in the Workplace

Brandon Laws
Staff At Coffee Bar

There are plenty of books out there for high achievers—usually prescribing morning routines, how many books you should be reading and other habits connected to success. But Maki Moussavi, author of “ The High Achiever’s Guide: Transform Your Success Mindset and Begin the Quest to Fulfillment, ” has a different take. So I chatted with her about her new book and how emotional intelligence can translate to true success.

Maki Moussavi was like a lot of high achievers out there. But no matter what she did, nothing felt right. As she explains it, “I woke up one day and realized that despite all of this outward success that I had created for myself, making great money, a prestigious position, the respect of my colleagues and my leaders and all of that, I felt strangely empty.” So she set out to uncover what she could do to feel fulfilled by her work and dispel some myths along the way.

Myth One: You have to put your work before everything else

We’ve all seen the effects of this—when working hard wins out over working well and late hours, sleep lost and lunches skipped become badges of honor. Maki’s solution? Self-prioritization. She explains, “We are so conditioned to think that the right thing to do is to make sure that the needs of other people are met.” The more we focus on external recognition, the more we lose sight of who we are, what we need and what success means to us. Think of building your success like building a home—without a strong foundation, you’re never building on solid ground.

Myth Two: High achievers keep emotion out of their work

Maki points to commonly accepted “wisdom” that we shouldn’t make emotional decisions or interact with people when emotions are high. But the result is that people are tamping down emotions, getting stuck in negative cycles and not acknowledging things until they’ve reached rock bottom. She reminds us, “Your feelings exist for a reason. They’re an early warning system that something is out of balance. And when we continue to use logic to overcome those feelings, we make bad decisions.” Emotions are key in connecting and collaborating with people, in helping us guide our work. By honoring our emotions, we can both do better work and be more fulfilled within our role.

Myth Three: Leaders should always be listening

While listening is incredibly important, Maki believes that’s only half the equation. She points to our culture of people pleasing as the root of why many leaders end up holding feedback and thoughts in—to the detriment of the leader and the organization. Avoiding conflict isn’t a reason to not give voice to your thoughts. “Speaking up is not a source of conflict in itself. You can’t control how people will react. And if you don’t use your words, you don’t give others the opportunity to respond.” By not articulating what needs to change, nothing will change. True leadership is about listening AND speaking up.

Want to learn more about bringing emotional intelligence to a high achiever mindset? Check out Maki Moussavi’s book, The High Achiever’s Guide: Transform Your Success Mindset and Begin the Quest to Fulfillment , and visit her website at .

Brandon Laws Brandon Laws is the Senior Director of Marketing and Product at Xenium HR. He is the host of Transform Your Workplace, a podcast he started in 2012 which has grown to over 400 episodes and 950,000 downloads. Ranked the number one HR podcast, with a five-star rating on Apple Podcasts, it provides inspiration and practical tools for HR professionals and people leaders. Brandon continues to drive the conversation forward through webinars, speaking appearances, and social media. He lives Oregon, with his wife, Angela, their children Parker and Paisley, two cats, and a dog.

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