It’s often hard not to feel envious of them - as they ascend the stage to collect another
prize, float their start-up company, are promoted a decade ahead of their peers or
dominate the music charts or bestseller lists.
Over-achievers torment us rather a lot. But we should, more rightly, combine our envy with
a little compassion. It is likely that these gifted souls are paying an oddly elevated price for
their extraordinary successes, so much so that - once their full psychological profiles are in
view - we should start to feel a bit sorry for the trajectory of their lives.
Behind their relentless activity lies an emotional rather than professional burden. It may
look as if they simply want to sell more books, accumulate more shares or have their name
in lights. But over-achievers are rather trying to secure something far more tricky, unusual
and unmentioned. We live in a world very interested in huge achievements and very
uninclined to notice the trauma behind them. We easily forget the contentment with
modest achievement can be a sign that things are not very well for someone emotionally.