High achiever career trap

I’m not sure if it is my job in engineering or my background in economics, but I tend to notice patterns.

One pattern I see a lot, is what I call the high achiever career trap.

I call it a trap which is a bit unfair, but only a bit…

This tends to happen to people who are very good at their jobs.  Often so good, there is no incentive for their career to progress.

The current manager is motivated for them to stay exactly where they are, as the work is being done so well.

The organization has trouble imagining the person in any other role.

The individual finds themselves frighteningly comfortable in their star status.

and then what? 

A whole lot of the same,  is what.

To get unstuck, you need to put a plan in place to get out of the trap.  I must warn you this is not easy.

The first step will be to acknowledge that  you are part of the problem.  You are probably happy with the fact that you are indispensable and you might enjoy the comfort of being the best at what you do.

This is fine — unless it’s not.

So the first thing to do is decide what is important to you?

You should not decide you are trapped based upon ego or comparing yourself with others.  That will breed dissatisfaction.  You should be thinking about what you are achieving.  I do mean achieving… if you are really just looking for more money, I can say with confidence, you should get tips on that from someone else ;-).

When I coach people, I spend a lot of time digging with them to discover their real career objective.  Most have a very hard time answering this question.  If the goal is professional growth, you must get unstuck.

Actual growth does not happen when you are doing what you already know how to do.. growth comes when you are learning to do something you don’t know how to do.

You have to be willing to step away from being the best, and push yourself to something that requires you to change.  Something that requires stretch.  Something that scares you.   Something that might bring failure.

I hope to help people, to separate the desire for career growth from ego.  To move away from the traps — and to push themselves toward growth.

This is not for everyone and it is not easy. 

It’s what deliberate practice is all about.  Hard work, done on purpose, to yield new and amazing results.