Want to be an overachiever? Here’s the simple formula.

Adam Albrecht
3 min readApr 12, 2024

My friend Steve recently left me an interesting voicemail. He called to talk about some of my kids’ recent successes. But I couldn’t answer when he called because I was busy with kids’ stuff. It felt like I was living the lyrics from a sappy country song that you might use for a graduation or wedding video. (I will totally be making that video, with that song.)

When I listened to Steve’s voicemail, the following line stood out:

‘Wow! From what you have been sharing on social media lately it looks like your kids are really overachievers!

-Supportive Steve

Specifically, the word overachievers donged in my head. (Kinda like the dong you hear every time you see Long Duk Dong in 16 Candles.)

I know that Steve was being kind. And, yes, I share my 3 teenage children’s successes on the socials. But I never thought of my kids as overachievers. So I asked my wife Dawn if she thought our children were overachievers. She laughed and fired back an emphatic No! So I knew I wasn’t crazy. Or a bad dad. (At least not for this.)

So I found myself analyzing the word Overachiever. Overachieving is really about exceeding expectations. That is not what is happening with my children. In fact, my 3 kids are generally at the standards we have set together.

This is a result of 4 important factors.

  1. We have discovered and supported our children’s talents and interests.
  2. We have set reasonably high standards.
  3. We think long-term and set long-term goals
  4. We believe in the power of compounded effort.

As a result, our children have put a significant amount of effort into various combinations of academics, music, and athletics. (There also has been a significant amount of effort put into not emptying the dishwasher.) And you get out of life what you put in.

The Not-So-Secret Formula

The key to achievement is to identify your talents and interests. Then work consistently to develop them into strengths over a long period of time. This means several years. Or decades. When you do you will pull away from those who dabble at the same activities.

Because when you doggy paddle you don’t make much progress. But if you learn a basic swim stroke, and apply it repeatedly, day after day, year after year, you can swim across an ocean. And when you get to the far shore, people will say, Wow! You swam across a frick’n ocean! How did you do that? The answer is simple. ‘I learned a swim stroke, and just kept repeating it until I ran out of water.’

Success is usually some combination of the following two areas:

1. Gaining strength or stamina

2. Refining technique

Both of these things are done slowly over time. Most people don’t have the patience to stick with these activities long enough. They become bored. Or distracted. Or don’t feel like the effort is paying off fast enough. But if you stick with your activities long enough you will find yourself in another world. Thanks to the compounding effect of your efforts.

So what is overachieving? It is simply normal achieving, done consistently over a longer timeframe.

Key Takeaway

To become an overachiever, find your talents and interests. Do the little things you need to do to improve in those areas. Practice your technique. Work on your strength. Build your stamina. And then just don’t stop. Eventually, those efforts will carry you past all of those who put in less effort, inconsistent effort, or stop working altogether. When you surpass those who achieve the norm, you will be considered an overachiever. And people will call you to congratulate you.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Originally published at http://adamalbrecht.blog on April 12, 2024.



Adam Albrecht

I am a growth-minded entrepreneur and author of the book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? I share what I'm learning on my journey. And I try to make it funny.