As an overachiever myself, I would have answered this question somewhat differently ten years ago. Back then, I really leaned into my Type A personality and tried to achieve all that I could. I still do to a large extent.
The difference that I have noticed recently is that it seems that we have raised an entire generation of overachievers. They are out there pushing to get perfect SAT scores and gain entrance into the best possible universities. They are founding companies in middle school and leading social initiatives while juggling AP classes in high school. They argue for a 100 instead of a 98 or 99 and feel increasing pressure to keep pace with their peers.
Although all of their many accomplishments are admirable, I can’t help but feel sorry for what these overachievers are missing out on- mainly time to just be kids and have fun. They are striving for perfection on all fronts, and as we older, more experienced people realize, there is no such thing as perfection in life. There is beauty in the mistakes and the zigzags along the journey. I hope that they will come to understand that too.
Despite our best intentions, perhaps we have (collectively) pushed this generation too far with our expectations, helicopter parenting, and desire to help. After all, we have tried to give them all the support and resources that we never had, but was it too much?
There is certainly a place for overachievers and those striving for success in our world, however my hope is that it will be tempered by the desire to tend to other aspects of their lives (beyond achievement and professional success). As managers and role models, we can help by placing just as much of an emphasis on work-life balance as we do on achievement and traditional success.
In my eyes, a truly successful person has fully integrated many different areas of their life- social, emotional, intellectual, physical, professional, spiritual and more. Let’s help the overachievers we know find that balance.
This question originally appeared on Quora.
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