What Makes High Achievers?

Ever wondered what is the difference between high achievers and low achievers? Well, the results are surprising.

The greatest physicist ever – and one of the high achievers – Albert Einstein had this to say about achieving, “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” 

Question is, how do you play better than most? Furthermore, achievement is not just about material gain.

Many inspiring films have been made on the lives of those who set out with very little and went on to distinguish themselves. 

Nonetheless, let’s have a look at two everyday people on whom movies will never be made but they are unquestionably, achievers. Their names have been changed but the anecdotes are true.



Most people think arthritis comes with age. Fact is it can strike at anyone regardless of how old they are and can adversely affect day to day life. Arthritis, they say cannot be reversed. Only managed. 

This little story is about Alain. He was a student at an engineering college when he was all at once, torn up, after being diagnosed with this autoimmune disease. 

Rather than give in and keep suffering the pain, which sent shockwaves through his body, he decided on alternative therapies and swimming. Things worked. 

Today, he’s well into his forties, lives a painless life and over the years has been a club level swimming champion.



This is not first hand knowledge but was told to me. Falil in India came from an impoverished family but decided at an early age, he wanted to be an architect. 

Since he, with his mother and little sister, lived in a slum which had no electricity he could be found studying under a street light. 

This would be every evening, after he had attended the free school he went to and had taken care of his sister during the day while their mother was away at work. 

Not only did he become an architect but a well known one and one who designs airports.

There are certain attributes that set individuals like Alain and Falil apart. We will have a look at what studies have to say.



Fortitude: These are people who possess or garner sustained mental and emotional strength to go on facing difficulties and adversity day after day and don’t give in to the temptation and slacken. 

They work one step at a time and when time has passed and they look back, the starting point is no longer to be seen.

Self restraint : Unlike fortitude which must be constant and lasting, self restraint needs to be practiced from time to time when we are faced with challenging situations.

Hope for success and optimism: According to one study about high and low achievers, 

“High Achievers have a high need for achievement, possess ‘hope of success’, are optimistic, identify themselves with a successful authority and prefer intrinsic rewards when successful.

High Achievers_2.jpg
High Achievers: “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else,” Albert Einstein


What Do The Studies Say?

“While low achievers have low need for achievement and are somewhat pessimistic and prefer external rewards when successful and do not identify themselves with successful authority.” 

The same study goes on to say, “High achievers have high ‘ego-ideal’, are self-confident, competitive, maintain their self respect and have a sense of striving to achieve a high position or status; while as low achievers possess low ego-ideal, hardly bother to have a high position or status, are not competitive, feel less concerned towards maintenance of self-respect.

“High achievers possess ‘perseverance’, prefer difficult and challenging tasks, have a sense of devotion to work, have a long-term involvement with their future career and dislike idleness; while low achievers are not persevering. 

“They do not prefer difficult and challenging tasks, are not committed to work, have short term involvement with their future career paths. 

“High achievers have ‘realistic attitude’, take intermediate risks and plan in advance, while low achievers have unrealistic attitudes, take either high or low risks in life and do not plan in advance for doing anything in life.

“High achievers are in favour of ‘internal control of fate’ and possess strong determination and deny the role of some superior unknown force in shaping their destiny, while as low achievers possess a feeling of external control of fate, rely more on superior unknown forces than on self effort in shaping one’s destiny and have weak determination and possess inconsistent behaviour.” 

In truth, we all possess capabilities. The trick is to be able to extend the wherewithal we have without being fanatical about it. 

Other common traits I see among achievers are they go about living their lives each day, rarely or never do they speak badly about others, do not procrastinate, are refreshingly pleasant and have a keen sense of empathy.

Overall, there’s an achiever in all of us.

Photos: Shutterstock

Want to achieve in your career from an internship?  We’ve got some tips for you:

How to Turn Internships into a Job

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