Lofty Goals, Great Achievements, Bad Behavior
The story is all too familiar.
We learn about a public figure who’s famous for achieving amazing things against impossible odds. We read about their solid work ethic, dedication to excellence, high expectations of themselves and others, and determination to succeed.
We watch biopics about pro athletes who sleep at the training center in an oxygen tent for months at a time. We read about about entrepreneurs who work hundred-hour weeks, artists who sacrifice years honing their craft in search of perfection, and software designers glued to their keyboards cranking through marathon coding sessions.
We praise their passion, intensity, and disruptive ideas. We love that they don’t care about upsetting the apple cart. We’re jealous of their willingness to stand up to anyone and push their ideas through to completion.
Then we hear more, and it’s not all good. They snap at people in meetings. They’re pushy, domineering, or downright insulting to peers or employees who don’t live up to their expectations. They turn to vices like drugs, drinking, or toxic relationships to soothe their inner demons.
The stress gets to them, and they behave badly.
A Higher Standard
There’s a paradox here: we should hold these people to a higher standard, but we don’t. We give them a pass—because they achieve great things. And that’s not the end of the paradox. When we strive to achieve great things ourselves, we hold ourselves accountable to the standards of kindness, decency, and personal behavior we know are healthy and right.
We set ourselves up for a fall.
When the stress gets to us and we want to lash out, drink too much, or dive back into that bad-candy relationship, we try to our best to control our behavior in the moment, but we fail. Our primal urges get the best of us, our emotions ambush us, and we can’t resist temptation.
Because we wait until it’s too late.
An Ounce of Prevention
When facing a delicate, high-stakes situation crucial to achieving your goal, make the conscious decision—ahead of time—to be ready for your emotions, prepare yourself for the tension, and meet your habitual patterns head on. Create strategies to conquer your demons, let the better angels of your nature prevail, and step into a bigger future.
You’ll come away with a double win. You’ll achieve your ambitious goals while breaking out of the old patterns that keep you stuck as a person.