Before we get started today, I am not an expert in Chinese philosophy or psychology. Rather, I am a curious layman, putting some ideas together.

200px-Yin_and_YangWhile all high-achievers I know are not alike, it seems that they all have two components to their make-up: strong desire to achieve and anxiety that pushes or disrupts that path.

In Chinese philosophy,  yin-yang exists in the fabric of nature weaving the “dark” and the “light” sides of a natural phenomenon. The result is a harmonizing of the “whole.”

When examining frustrations and problems with my high-achieving clients, I am struck by the yin-yang of that drive to accomplish, to exceed expectations, to make their vision come into reality.

The Yang of Desire

The positive, “sunny-side” of high-achievement shows up in strong desire for the expected result. You might be driven by a passion for your field, enthusiasm for building excellent teams or organizations, satisfaction of continuous hard numbers success, or whatever else. When speaking from this desire, high-achievers inspire their teams, spark new ideas, and more.

The Yin of Anxiety

The “dark-side” of high-achievement often shows up in the anxiety associated with not meeting-the-mark. Sometimes the anxiety only affects our internal experience, punishing ourselves for potentially failing. Other times, our anxiety spills out onto our teams and relationships in the form of anger, withholding, demanding-ness, etc.

If the yin-yang philosophy is relevant, we wouldn’t try to eliminate the anxiety. We would:

  1. Understand the anxiety and
  2. Know how to blend and use the anxiety in concert with our desire.

Sounds so wonderful, not so easy to do.

For today, I am interested in three questions:

  1. Does this concept of the yin-yang of high-achievement resonate with you?
  2. Are you using your anxiety to the good?
  3. When does your anxiety source disfunction?

We’ll take a closer look at anxiety in future posts.