The Dark Side of High-Achieving

Published on March 5, 2019 in

In 2013 I was the top global salesperson at my company and sold $10MM in mobile media before it was a thing (and by thing I mean a widely accepted platform.) It was unprecedented.

So what happened?

They doubled my goal for 2014.

While this is completely normal in sales, it didn’t change the fact that I felt blindsided every time. All I wanted to hear was, “great job, Karen. You can rest now.” But since no one was going to tell me that but me (and I wasn’t willing to yet), I felt punished for being a top performer instead. It felt like I could never, ever work hard enough.

I think about this sometimes when I see an inbox full of emails. My first instinct is usually to run as a result.
In the past, when I received an email I was trained to reply immediately, which I mistakenly took to mean that my needs came second to everyone else’s. I used to take conference calls at midnight for clients in the US. To put it lightly, it was not ideal – yet it was also what seemed to make me successful.

It never occurred to me that I had another choice. It also never occurred to me that there may have been another force at play.

When I look back at that time, I now see that living in New York and working in sales was a divine opportunity. It accelerated every single lesson I needed to learn (to the nth degree) about what didn’t work for me, personally and professionally, so that I could go off and find what did.

I am often told by people who are much older than me that I’m lucky to have learned these lessons when I did. I don’t believe in luck, per se, and I do agree with the sentiment – because life is short. Remember how fast last year went by?

What if you could see the situation that you’re in right now – the one you don’t love – and know that it may be one of the most valuable things that ever happened for you?

What would change?

As Rachel Hollis says, “it’s possible to find meaning in everything. Nothing is wasted. Every single moment is preparing you for the next.”

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