Managing Yourself: The Paradox of Excellence

This is interesting information. I think there may be some validity to it, but not a lot. I know people, my husband for one, that thrives on learning new skills. In my opinion, being more versatile in the work place should endear you to your employer.

Why is it that so many smart, ambitious professionals are less productive and satisfied than they should or could be? Why do so many of them find their upward trajectories flattening into a plateau? In our experience—Tom’s as a business school professor and consultant and Sara’s as a psychiatrist—high achievers often let anxiety about their performance compromise their progress. Because they’re used to having things come easily to them, they tend to shy away from assignments that will truly test them and require them to learn new skills. They have successful images to preserve, so instead of embracing risk, they hunker down and lock themselves into routines—at the expense of personal growth.

We’ve seen this time and again with the executives and managers we’ve counseled—between us, some 600 professionals over a combined 35 years. Many high performers would rather do the wrong thing well than do the right thing poorly. And when they do find themselves in over their head, they’re often unwilling to admit it, even to themselves, and refuse to ask for the help they need.

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