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Creating Successful Leaders

If you’re like many people I know, you have high expectations for yourself. You are likely more critical of your own mistakes and flaws than those of anyone else. You probably also find yourself wishing you could do more and be more on any given day. You’re constantly raising your personal bar and looking for your next mountain to climb.

Sound familiar?

If so, you just might be an over-achiever and a perfectionist. And that’s fine! There are a lot of us out there. We’re constantly trying to be everything for everyone. But that’s just not possible. And even if we’ve learned how to NOT spread ourselves too thin, there’s still the danger of constantly raising our personal expectations.

How can raising the bar be a bad thing?

On the surface, it’s perfectly fine to regularly raise our personal standards. Companies do it, so why not individuals? As you learn new skills and develop your talents, you’ll naturally start to improve, and when that happens, it’s logical to raise the bar. That’s all well and good—raising your personal bar keeps you constantly learning and improving—but this can turn into a problem if your bar-raising gets out of control.

For one, you might increase your personal expectations so much that they become nearly impossible to obtain. That, or you might find yourself toiling for extra hours or taking on more and more work to achieve your new standards. There’s a difference between a healthy challenge and a crushing workload. If you’re constantly feeling frazzled, anxious, or overwhelmed, your personal bar might have risen beyond your grasp.

The other part about bar-raising that can be damaging is failing to recognize your achievements. If you don’t take the time to occasionally pause and reflect on how much you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come, you will always be feeling like you’re falling short. And I’m sure that’s not true! Think about everything you’ve learned and achieved over the years—all the projects you’ve completed, bridges you’ve built, and skills you’ve mastered. Think about where you are today compared to where you were five years ago. I’m sure you’ve grown and changed over that time, even if you can’t see the growth on the day-to-day.

Instead of constantly raising your personal bar, take the time to 1) reflect on and CELEBRATE your achievements and 2) set reasonable goals for the future. Take the future one step at a time, rejoice in your victories, and don’t let that bar get too far out of reach.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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