Although I’ve achieved relatively plenty in my life, I don’t consider myself a high achiever. It’s probably because I still think I could have achieved more.
However, talking to some people recently made me realize that many people, in fact, think of me as a high achiever.
This made me think about what high achievers have in common. What behaviors and habits define them.
So, without further delay, here are the behaviors that reveal whether you’re a high achiever.
1) Relentless self-belief
Most high achievers have a persistent, some would call it stubborn, belief in themselves and their abilities. Even when others are skeptical of them.
This self-confidence is certainly a driving force in their success.
When you’re self-confident, you’re more motivated and keen to take initiative. If you believe in your abilities, you’re more likely to set ambitious goals and work towards them.
Your spirit simply fuels your drive to thrive. As does the following:
2) Extreme focus
While focus is common among high achievers, some take it to an extreme level. They immerse themselves completely in a task or project for extended periods.
They eat, sleep, and dream their projects and, therefore, reach unparalleled levels of productivity and mastery.
Take for example, Daniel Day-Lewis, the famous actor. He’s renowned for immersing himself fully in his characters.
He goes to great lengths to understand the roles he plays, often spending months or even years researching and preparing.
He’s also a method actor. This means he not only studies his characters but also adopts their thoughts, emotions, and physicality.
For his roles, he undergoes significant weight loss, muscle gain, or other physical alterations to portray characters as accurately as possible.
All of these things also mean he has the following mindset:
3) Unconventional and/or visionary thinking
High achievers often think outside the box and challenge the status quo. They adopt unconventional approaches and aren’t afraid to question traditional norms and practices.
Perhaps the best example is Nikola Tesla. He was a brilliant inventor who challenged the established understanding of electricity and developed groundbreaking technologies like alternating current (AC) power.
His unconventional ideas undoubtedly paved the way for modern electrical systems.
On the other hand, high achievers also have a long-term vision for their goals. They don’t focus solely on short-term gains but plan for sustained success over time.
By having visionary thinking, they make strategic decisions that align with their overarching objectives.
4) Leadership skills
The next behavior or skill we often see in go-getters is leadership. Whether in a formal leadership role or not, high achievers often lead by example.
They can almost effortlessly inspire and motivate others to work towards common goals.
Every organization needs great leaders. Without them, there probably won’t be great success.
It’s also a skill to strive for when you’re an entrepreneur, CEO, or political leader. People simply need and desire someone to follow.
In the end, you have a choice: to lead or to be led.
5) Experimental mindset
Some high achievers are continually experimenting with new ideas, projects, or ventures. They see failure as a natural part of the process and are constantly pursuing opportunities to learn and innovate.
As the founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely revolutionized the shapewear industry. Her experimental mindset led her to create a new product category and build a successful business from scratch.
Sara’s journey began with a simple idea: she wanted to find comfortable shapewear that gave a smooth look under clothing.
Dissatisfied with what was available on the market, she decided to take matters into her own hands.
This goes to show that while high achievers aren’t reckless (well, some are), they’re willing to take calculated risks when they believe there’s potential for significant rewards.
They understand that innovation often involves stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing uncertainty.
6) Embracing failure
As I mentioned above, high achievers see defeat as a valuable lesson. They understand that setbacks are a natural part of the journey to success.
When they fail, they analyze what went wrong, learn from it, and use that knowledge to improve and move forward.
This is a key factor in achieving greatness because, let’s face it, most projects fail at some point. In fact, 20% of businesses fail in the first year, and around 50% fail in five years.
When you see these figures, are you afraid to start a new venture? If you’re a high achiever, probably not. After all, you’re (stubbornly) confident in your abilities.
7) Mentoring and giving back
Once they reach a certain level of success, high achievers love to give back to their communities or industries.
They recognize the importance of sharing knowledge, experiences, and opportunities with others.
This generosity not only benefits those they mentor but also greatly contributes to their own legacy and impact. It’s also a shame to let all the knowledge you have go to waste.
But here’s something else that separates high achievers from the rest of the pack, and it’s really interesting.
8) Eccentric habits
Many high achievers have eccentric habits or routines they believe boost their productivity and creativity. These include unique rituals, workspaces, or daily practices that set them apart.
Here are a few interesting ones:
The former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill would often work from his bathtub, dictating speeches and letters while soaking in hot water. He believed it helped him think more clearly.
Inventor Thomas Edison was known for taking short, 20-minute naps throughout the day. He believed it helped him stay alert and maintain a high level of productivity.
Maya Angelou would check into a hotel room with minimal distractions and write from there. She believed this environment helped her concentrate on her work.
What’s your ritual? Is it eccentric enough to be mentioned in your memoirs one day?
9) Extreme frugality
While not universal, some high achievers are extremely frugal in their personal lives, even if they’re wealthy.
They consider financial discipline as a way to stay focused and avoid distractions. But there’s another important factor:
Frugality gives them financial flexibility and the ability to seize opportunities when they appear.
Whether it’s investing in a new business, pursuing further education, or taking a sabbatical, when you have extra money lying around, you can open doors to new possibilities ASAP.
You don’t have to go into debt or take out a loan, although loans are also beneficial in many ways.
10) Ruthless time management
Beyond effective time management, some high achievers take a ruthless approach to their schedules. They meticulously plan every minute of their day to maximize productivity.
Most importantly, they delegate tasks that can be handled by others, freeing up their time for more critical responsibilities.
It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.
If you want to be a high achiever, you need to delegate as soon as possible. For many, that will mean finding someone for cooking and cleaning their home, as well as yard work.
In business and other ventures, the first step in delegating is to assess your workload and identify tasks you can delegate.
Consider tasks that are repetitive, time-consuming, or don’t require your specific expertise.
And lastly, high achievers often choose to hyper-specialize in a particular niche or field, becoming experts in a very narrow area.
By focusing so closely on one thing, they acquire exceptional knowledge and expertise. This depth sets them apart from generalists and makes them invaluable resources in their chosen niche.
But above all, when you’re so deeply entrenched in something, you more easily identify and address issues that others don’t even recognize.
This makes it easier for them to identify opportunities for improvement, new solutions, or novel approaches within that niche.
In the end, tell me, are you a high achiever? Did you fulfill your potential and are now living your best life?