Monday, January 18, 2010

Uncaring Overachiever?

Driven,
Ambitious,
Stubborn,
Perfectionist,
Singularly-focused,
Selfish,
Pragmatic,
Career-oriented,
Go-getter,
Only out for #1,
Results-oriented,
Quick to action,
Critical,
Hard-working,
Not available,
Only interested in results,
Obsessed with productivity,
Intense,
Detail-oriented,
Overachiever.

Do these characteristics make us less caring as individuals?

Seems a bit harsh, but it's probably not the first (or last) time it's been suggested. These characteristics don't necessarily mean we're uncaring, but they do impact our relationships because:
  1. We are driven to work hard (which often means less free time to spend with others), and
  2. The time we do spend with them might be colored by the other thoughts running around in our minds (lack of true quality time/being present when we're with them because we're preoccupied with other thoughts).
The combination of both (and repeated infringements) lead to the perception that we're low on the "caring" scale. Since these overachiever traits create tension in our personal lives (competition for time, mind-space), we can work to alleviate this misconception of "not-caring" in a few ways:

  • Be conscientious about safeguarding the time we set aside for our friends and family - don't break plans, be on-time, turn off our blackberry/iPhone, etc. Time and attention show they are a priority.
  • Understand the most important element/display of friendship for the people in our lives - a phone call, Sunday dinner, email, meeting for coffee, date night, watching the game together, working out, visiting once a month, etc. and commit to doing that.
  • Allow ourselves to be open in our interactions with friends, family, significant others, and strangers. Actively work to cultivate empathy, generosity, patience, and sensitivity. Even if it's a smile to the cashier, a note to a friend in need, a good deed, a compliment, or going out of our way to help someone. Those things are remembered and appreciated (and also make us feel good, too).

Of course, part of me feels like we shouldn't have to to defend or hide our overachiever characteristics, but it's good to consider how we can improve to be the best we can be in all aspects of life.

1 comment:

JLB said...

This post REALLY resonates with me, thank you for writing it. I guess it is something that I've never really thought about until recently when I've seen that my personal relationships have been extremely stressed due to my dedication towards school/career progression. I think the tougher part is that there is sometimes a small level of guilt attached to all of it as well.