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The surprising challenge that comes with success in high pressure cultures

Do you ever pause to acknowledge your own achievements?

In a fast paced, high pressure environment - especially common in startups and scaleups - it's easy to overlook your accomplishments amidst constant deadlines, high expectations and even bigger goals.

Sometimes, the greater the success you achieve, the greater the pressure may feel to perform next time. You may even feel discomfort talking about your own success.

This can lead to a perpetual cycle of chasing the next milestone while dismissing the ones you’ve already conquered.

💡 You may feel that this helps you become more successful.

💣 In reality, it’s more likely to work against you.

🔍 Drawbacks:

  1. When you downplay or dismiss your achievements, you inadvertently reinforce a pattern of self-criticism - step by step eroding self-confidence.

  2. You can end up feeling like you’re not good enough despite your achievements - a common consequence of downplaying success. This can lead you to missing out on important growth opportunities.

  3. Without recognising and celebrating your accomplishments, you may lose sight of your progress and eventually dampen your motivation to keep pushing forward.

  4. Constantly striving for more at an intense pace without taking the time to acknowledge milestones can lead to worsening stress levels and burnout.

Some antidotes to help you build self-awareness and confidence:

  • Note your past achievements: It’s easy to forget all of the important things you have achieved, when there is so much more you want to do. Set aside a few minutes - to note down each of your achievements in the last year - or five. Next, say them out loud to yourself.

  • Record as you go along! Write down the things you are doing well on a daily basis. Record what you’ve achieved, what you’ve learnt, and how this will help you in the future. This list will make it easy to pitch yourself for promotions too!

  • Share your accomplishments with a trusted friend/confidante who you feel will genuinely celebrate with you. This can start to help you feel more at ease about talking about your successes. Another person may also help you see your progress for what it really is, and share the strengths they see in you for it.

  • Ask: “What am I doing well”?

People often ask their managers how they can improve in their role, but the question: “What am I doing well?” is just as important. Awareness of your strengths will help you put them to good use with confidence for the company you’re in.

When was the last time you acknowledged your own achievements?

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