Are you an Achiever?

Mar 25, 2013Work Uncaged


If you’ve never taken the Strengths Finder test, I would highly recommend it. My findings were interesting, enlightening and a bit paradoxical. The underlying focus of the test is to establish your strengths. When we know them, we can then lead from our strengths, maximizing our impact.

My top three?

  1. Achiever
  2. Empathy
  3. Communication

When the facilitator saw how close my top two were, he was very surprised. “It’s not often you see those two together,” he said. “Do you ever feel conflicted about achieving, particularly if it involves other people?”

Um, yeah. Which is why I’m perpetually in a state of ambiguity. I read books about “making it” as a businesswoman, but in the back of my mind, I can’t go full out because maybe I would hurt people in my climb for success.

I think we all struggle with paradoxes like this in the way God made us. I’d love to hear about your paradoxes in the comment section.

But onto Achiever. How do you know if you’re an achiever?

Consider this explanation from Gallup Business Journal and see if you “fit”:

“Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day — workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. You have an internal fire burning inside you. It pushes you to do more, to achieve more. After each accomplishment is reached, the fire dwindles for a moment, but very soon it rekindles itself, forcing you toward the next accomplishment. Your relentless need for achievement might not be logical. It might not even be focused. But it will always be with you.”

Wow, and yes.

That is me. It’s as if they looked at my life and described me. Is it you? I remember feeling less weird when I found out my friend Michael Hyatt shares this trait with me. I’m not alone!

And now, what to do with that? As far as I can see, there are positives and negatives about being an achiever.


  1. Achievers get a lot done.
  2. Achievers push beyond what they think they’re capable of.
  3. Achievers discover things no one else discovered because of their tenacity.
  4. Achievers change their world and the world.


  1. Nothing is ever enough.
  2. You can’t slow down to celebrate victories. (Oh that is SO me.)
  3. You might run over others or disregard them completely on your quest for achievement.
  4. Burnout and workaholism can haunt Achievers.
  5. Achievers have a constant battle between despair (didn’t do enough, or did it wrong) and elation (which can sometimes turn into pride), all this without contentment for the Great Right Now.

Writing that list makes me worried that sometimes my achieving tendencies mess with me, burn me out, and keep me constantly looking forward. Which is why I resonated with my favorite book, The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan.

I need to make myself rest, to choose contentment, and to realize that my worth doesn’t equal success. (Click to tweet). It feels like irony that God has called me to be a writer and speaker because those fields are not easily measured. I may get an email from a reader saying a book has changed a life, but then I’ll receive a royalty statement from a publisher (where I certainly didn’t feel royal) and sink into sadness. Achieving often feels like an addictive drug.

So why did God make some of us Achievers? He fashioned us this way for a reason. Perhaps He knew that we would find fulfillment that way, or that in our corner of the world, a lot needed to get done. Or maybe it’s a thorn in the side that helps us see so clearly that we really need God in our weakness, and that the greater things achieved are not applauded on this earth.

May it be that no matter how we’re wired that we take this verse to heart: 1 Corinthians 3:12-14

“Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.”

May it be that we embrace the paradox that the achievements that look golden this side of eternity turn into straw in the next. And the straw that seems insignificant and useless here becomes bright as diamonds in the next life. That’s the kind of achievement I want to pursue.

What about you? Are you an Achiever? Something else? Any paradoxes in the way God made you?