In a post on LinkedIn, Jullien Gordon – an acclaimed speaker and founding partner of New Higher – candidly confessed to being a “recovering workaholic”.
According to him, workaholism might seem like peak performance from the outside, yet there is nothing more different between them.
Gordon has devoted significant time and effort to researching and testing himself, exploring the contrast between workaholism and high performance. He discerned that although both may appear demanding, “the big difference is how the individual feels on the inside about who they are in relationships to their work.”
A high performer works hard in “healthy sustainable ways and feels happy and inspired,” he says. Meanwhile, a workaholic “works hard in unhealthy unsustainable ways and feels unhappy and burned out.”
Here are three more distinguishing features between workaholics and high achievers:
1. High performers know their value. Workaholics allow others to determine their value.
“A high performer knows their self-worth and can thus work with a sense of freedom,” Gordon says. They do periodic self-evaluations of their performance so that they can constantly improve. And, he says, “they create their feedback loops rather than waiting on feedback from others.”
A workaholic, on the other hand, relies on external validation from those around them: bosses, colleagues, and clients. They wait for external evaluations, such as mid-year or annual reviews, to understand how well they are doing, which causes them to work with a constant sense of fear.
2. High performers give 100% at the right time. Workaholics give 110% all of the time.
Gordon emphasizes that high achiever knows when to “turn it up”. They understand the moments when they must give it their all, and thus conserve energy for those specific times.
“They don’t buy into the illusion of 110%,” he says. “They know that 110% is unsustainable. Instead, they focus on increasing their capacity so that their 100% is better than the competition’s 110%.”
Workaholic strives to wholeheartedly pursue their goals without exception. “They have difficulty prioritizing what’s important, therefore, everything is important in their mind.”
3. High performers take initiative. Workaholics are reactive.
The most successful among us strategically plan out their day to ensure that the highest-value tasks are attended to first. Once these assignments have been checked off, they then grant themselves permission to switch gears and move on to unexpected events.
Alternatively, Gordon insists that the day of a workaholic is governed solely by external disturbances such as reading emails and dealing with dilemmas.
“If and when all of the minutia get address, they try to do what’s most meaningful,” Gordon writes of workaholics.
4. High performers do business. Workaholics are busy.
Achieving a successful business outcome is the main purpose of any high performer. “The only thing that matters to them are results,” Gordon says. “If they can’t see a way to create value at the moment, they facilitate or strategize instead. They know that like the economy, business comes in waves, therefore they get ready during the dips so they can capitalize during the upswings.”
For the workaholic, nothing is more essential than staying busy at all times – they think that being and looking perpetually occupied will make them seem indispensable.
“Workaholics fill any space in time with busy work because they feel insecure doing nothing,” Gordon explains. “The insecurity comes from not knowing their value.”
Want to learn more? Click here to access the complete LinkedIn post.
This post was originally published on Business Insider.
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