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Comment: Are you killing it at work but still worried? You might be an “anxious overachiever”

Self-esteem at stake

“There is a sense that anxious people succeed because they feel their self-esteem is on the line,” adds Morra Aarons-Mele, author of The Anxious Achiever. This can lead to incredible results.

But anxiety can also sometimes get in the way, Aarons-Mele says, pushing them to a level of perfectionism that results in unclear priorities and missed deadlines. “Sometimes people with anxiety can be wrong,” she says. “And I speak from experience.”

If you fall into this camp, you may already recognize yourself. Maybe you get glowing performance ratings, but worry that you’re on the verge of being fired. Perhaps you think that your family’s affection or approval depends on your success. Maybe you feel the need to overdeliver to justify the amount you charge for each six minutes. Maybe people tell you to “lower your standards” or “remember what’s most important.” And maybe burnout is starting to become a way of life.

But even if it sounds familiar, says Svenja Weber, a professor at INSEAD business school, it’s a mistake to focus only on employees rather than workplace dynamics; Stress and anxiety can spread like weeds in companies with strict policies and hard-to-measure results.

“If the only results that matter are those of tomorrow, and if your value depends on what your clients and colleagues think of you, then being an insecure overachiever is not a pathology,” she writes in an article co-written with his colleague Gianpiero Petriglieri. “It is a necessity.”

Breaking free is not as simple as quitting. Too often, overachievers and insecure people replicate the conditions they fled into – something that Empson says happened to her when she left investment banking and strategy consulting for academia . It’s the only way they know how to succeed.

“If we are to truly consider change, we must understand our complicity in the status quo,” Weber says.

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