Monday, July 6, 2009


I have been called an overachiever before.

An overachiever is someone who does more than required. Someone who does more than is expected.

Some have meant it as a compliment. "You did so well and have gone above and beyond!" Others have offered it as a complaint. "You really don't need to waste time doing it like that."

But, to me, overachieving is more about expectations than it is about accomplishments. Kind of like movies, really. Have you ever seen the trailer for a movie and then really wanted to see it? And then when you did see it, you were a little disappointed. Why? Because your expectations were high going in. Just like when someone takes you to a movie you don't really want to see, but you go with them because they want to see it. Then, it turns out to be a lot better than expected. Why? Expectations were pretty low to begin with.

You've seen this with political candidates, too. Before any debate the campaign staff will downplay their own candidate's debating ability and generously compliment the opponent. What are they doing? Trying to raise your expectations for the opponent and lower your expectations for their candidate. Then, they hope you are disappointed in the opponent and pleasantly surprised by their candidate.

Expectations strongly effect our judgement. Expectations that we have of others (meaning, how we think they will do--not demands or requirements) tell us a lot about how we view other people.

So when people call me an overachiever, I know that they have simply underestimated me.

I once got a dose of this from the president of my mission agency after I came back from my first 3-month trip to The Location.

"Koffijah, I am so impressed with what you've done! You did a great job this summer! You know, before you left we looked at you and it was kind of like when you're watching little league baseball. We're down by two, the bases are loaded, it's the bottom of the last inning and there are two outs. Then you come up to bat and you're the boy who is last on the lineup. You have to bat because in little league everyone gets to bat. Everyone on the team moans and all the parents in the stands moan, too because this is the kid who strikes out almost every time. But Koffijah, you just hit it out of the park!"

Yes, he actually said that. I was like, "Uh... thank you." I was glad he was so happy with what I had done, but was rather disturbed that he expected so very little. I knew he had a pretty low view of me and didn't think I would be capable of doing much, but, hey, "God can use anyone!"

Do you do this with anyone in your life? Do you look at them and think, "I don't think they have what it takes." Or, "If they end up doing anything it's going to be God for sure!" If so, then we just might take time to look deeper at them and reconsider our view of them. It just might end up making a big difference.

Maybe you'll start batting them cleanup.


  1. Interesting post! I have often been accused of having too high expectations of people. One person stands out in particular as saying, "You have such high expectations of me and I'm afraid I'll disappoint you because I can't meet them." Then as I watched him mature through the years, my expectations had been right on and he did exceed my expectations. I was very pleased! I knew this person had the abilities, but didn't trust to apply himself. I've been blessed with seeing potential in others and nurturing it.

    Now if I could only see the potential that is still left in me in my retirement years, lol!

    As an overachiever myself, I think and know, and I'm wondering if you think that too,that I could still do more for the Lord if I only applied myself. Having a hard time accepting that I can just 'be' and not have to 'do' all the time.

    I'll be thinking about this all day now!! God bless!

  2. I've been told similar things too! It's a strange one to process because the people meant it as a compliment. Glad I'm not the only one who's received this treatment. :)