Everybody wants to be successful.
We are programmed from childhood to strive for high achievement. And this competitive nature can be a powerful source of motivation for success.
But is it the true key to personal fulfillment? There may be something about this mentality that’s actually holding us back.
In this recent episode of the Mindvalley podcast, Rich Litvin, author and founder of The High-Achieving Introvert Project and The Confident Woman’s Salon, illustrates how we’re conditioned to see asking for help as a form of weakness.
Instead, he encourages us to recognize the importance of being vulnerable. And how incorporating this valuable and empowering practice can change your life.
How Do You Define Achievement?
Many people go through life without asking the simple question: what do I really want?
Our society is addicted to winning. Success breeds money, status, and power. We glorify the grind.
This basic drive is not anything to be ashamed of—in fact, it is a byproduct of evolution. Our ancestors’ survival was contingent on overcoming challenges and persevering. We want to be strong, independent, and efficacious.
But how does this affect the way we see ourselves?
And how does this affect the way we view success?
The way we view achievement has a huge impact on our personal and professional lives.
And understanding the way you define success can help you see how this very definition may be holding you back.
The Perfection Trap
I invite you to consider how the way you show up the world and has helped you become the success you are today—and how this may actually be the very thing holding you back and standing in the way of what’s truly possible for you.
It’s been said a million times. Nobody is perfect.
So, why do we demand perfection from ourselves? Why are our efforts never good enough?
Litvin explains his own pull towards perfectionism this way:
“Every time I was successful in something, I’d give myself about 17 seconds before I’d tell myself I should’ve done it bigger, or better, or bolder. I’d get acknowledged for things I’d done in life, and I couldn’t even hear the acknowledgments. I couldn’t even hear them.”
This type of thinking is especially common for high-achieving individuals.
The very mental patterns that lead to success can also create significant deep-rooted insecurities. Internal thought patterns like, “it’s not good enough,” or, “it should be better,” can become an overwhelming force that outshines the reality of our true accomplishments.
If left unchecked, these thought patterns can create a vast internal paradox:
“If I’m succeeding, why do I feel so unfulfilled?”
Common Pitfalls For High Achievers
Being a high achiever and being in touch with yourself are not synonymous.
Many people do not want themselves to be seen as weak. And the automatic defense mechanism for this is suppression.
We choose to only communicate our thoughts and feelings of strength, willpower, and security. And we push down all that makes us feel inadequate. We don’t reveal the true struggle of our everyday lives.
With our minds hard-wired on suppressing fear, we become consciously unaware of how we actually feel.
Luckily, there is an easy fix. And it has everything to do with being vulnerable.
Why being vulnerable is so important
Being vulnerable means exposing your weaknesses to another person. It means tapping into painful thoughts and fears and sharing them.
And that is no easy task.
But being vulnerable may be one of the most liberating and empowering practices you can adopt.
Why? Because it actively breaks the cycle of perfectionism.
The goal of vulnerability is to break down the illusion of the almighty self and allow others to help.
Sometimes we lack perspective on our own emotions—to a fault. It’s a common instinct to deny help and carry the burden of life’s challenges within the subconscious.
But allowing a trusted friend or loved one to provide advice or simply affirm your accomplishments can be extremely rewarding. It disrupts the unhealthy cycle of perfectionism and fosters a stronger bond between you and your loved one.
Rich Litvin’s vulnerability exercise
So, how can you work on inviting vulnerability into your life?
Rich Litvin suggests you try the following exercise:
The next time you’re talking to someone you trust, ask yourself: “What is it that I don’t want this person to know about me?”
You can share your struggles, hidden emotions, or something you’re ashamed of. But it’s important to also be open to celebrating your successes, joys, and triumphs. Allow yourself to be transparent without fear of judgment or rejection.
Being in touch with your true feelings and being willing to communicate them to others will open the door to true and lasting connection.
True strength isn’t found in being impenetrable. True strength is found in having the courage to be vulnerable.
A new perspective
Striving for success isn’t a bad thing. But realizing that success doesn’t ensure your personal fulfillment is crucial to becoming successful AND happy.
Being aware and open to your own shortcomings is ultimately what will allow you to overcome them. Realizing that some things are out of your control and allowing yourself to be vulnerable with others will bring new light and life to your relationships—not only with people in your life but with yourself.
For a more in-depth look at vulnerability, check out Rich Litvin on The Power of Vulnerability episode on the Mindvalley podcast.
Do you struggle with being vulnerable with your loved ones? What’s most challenging about this practice for you? Share your thoughts below.