The restless hyper-achiever

I'd never gripped a stranger by his waist so tightly. No time to contemplate this however as the stranger on my other side suddenly plunged us down a pothole. All attention turned onto our fight to safely reach the other side of the river.

It was about five months ago that I’d blithely signed up for a bush training course. When the time finally came round, my excitement at learning to be Bear Grylls was quickly overtaken by the sinking realisations that: (1) I was the only one who was not already a professional bush instructor; (2) my fellow trainees were the type to proclaim a tent to be a 'luxury''; and (3) I definitely should have packed more peanut butter sandwiches.

When I face moments like these, I wonder - if I want to be making the most of life, shouldn't I be making the most of what makes me comfortable? To me, the word 'comfort' means burrowing into bed with a steaming cup of tea. ‘Comfort’ does not mean knocking knees in white water rapids on a Sunday afternoon.

The problem with my comfort zone is that I simply don't seem to linger there too often. I recently took the Gallups Strengths Finder (unfortunate side note: you have to pay a small fee to be taught about yourself by an online algorithm). One of my top strengths is that I am a Learner. I am also an Achiever. Simply put, a self-motivated explorer. My comfort zone can't cater to my innate hunger to learn and achieve. Therefore, cups of tea are ditched in favour of the opportunity to nail (for example) the previously foreign art of compass navigation.

On the subject of strengths, I have always held a deep dislike for the classic interview question ‘what is your weakness?’ I.e., tell me about one of your weaknesses that is also (OMG!) your greatest strength. Resketching a negative as a positive has always seemed a bit artificial to me.

But then I took this thing called the Saboteur Assessment Test. It is based on a (very smart) guy's theory that you have an inner judge who sneers into your ear 24/7, telling you everything you are doing wrong. This judge has a couple of key accomplices ("Saboteurs") to help him in his mission to sabotage you. Everyone’s Saboteurs are different, depending on your own experiences and challenges.

My top Saboteurs are Restless (I constantly seek out new sources of excitement - which unchecked can become a type of anxiety-based escape) and Hyper-Achiever (I seek validation through constant high performance - which roots acceptance in external achievement rather than self).

Learner and Restless, Achiever and Hyper-Achiever. Hmmmm. Doesn't actually sound so dissimilar. Maybe the resketch isn't such a stretch after all.

But why am I even dwelling on all this? The breadth of my comfort zone and the self analysing? After all, I have been building myself a pretty strong personal brand over the past few months. But just between you, me and the Internet, I still struggle - every day - with what mountain my path is climbing. The way I combat this is by learning more about myself. I figure that the person most likely to hold all the answers to myself is, well, me. Plus, a questioning mind leads to a more open mind, right?

To this end, indulging in some soul searching and a spot of river crossing seems to be pretty practical.

Then again, maybe it’s just the Restless in me.

Anna WatsonTaupo