Are You A “Box-checker” Like Michelle Obama?

In Michelle Obama’s book, “Becoming,” she shares that from a very young age she has always been motivated to check the boxes of her to-do list. From practicing piano to brushing her babydolls’ hair, excellence was the goal and she achieved it with regular practice. Creating to-do lists and always checking your items off… even in your down time or on vacation is a telltale sign of the Achiever® strength. Much of Michelle’s story stems from this powerful executing strength with her life shaping accordingly to her goals. When a strength is this strong, it is called an anchor strength.

In most cases, like Michelle’s, an anchor strength is always present. For instance, Michelle frequently brings up how she was haunted because she responded incorrectly to one color flashcard in grade school. Her Achiever® would not stand for that lingering mistake. The following day, she marched up to her teacher, insisted on repeating the color flashcards so she could answer them correctly, and checked that box off her list. Now, that is a girl on a mission! This anecdote showcases Michelle’s strong Achiever® at a young age. Most people that can easily identify an anchor strength have similar narratives from childhood that clearly illustrate they were always that way. These stories and nascent strengths are the character and actions that make us who we are in adulthood.

Case and point– my friend, Cindy. I visited her in her new, spartan, spotlessly clean apartment to find this art piece next to her bedside. She purchased the piece because it connected with her Achiever® beliefs. When she completed a major life milestone, she modified the piece in true Achiever® fashion by crossing off “Did.” And, if that was not enough, she also added a big check mark next to it. Cindy treats this art piece, now, as her trophy. It is a reminder of the goals she can accomplish and “did.” Reminders like trophies, diplomas, a first dollar made, special recognitions, are all great fuel for anyone’s Achiever® strength, especially when it is an anchor strength.

So, if you are an Achiever® or you care for an Achiever®, display trophies or symbols of success with pride. These will serve as constant reinforcement of the power and edge of yours or their strength. If the Achiever® feels down, recalling the greatness he/she is capable of can boomerang that motivation.

Remember: everything in moderation! While Michelle Obama has certainly reached many levels of success, “Becoming” also has cautionary tales for Achievers®. Throughout the book, she discusses how she went to Harvard Law School and became a high-power attorney, but did not like the law. She found balance to her anchoring Achiever® when she met her Intellection® husband, Barrack Obama (I’ll discuss this more in another post.). Collaborating with his Intellection®, he inspired and encouraged her to think more deeply and critically about what she wanted in life. What a great balance of strengths! As a result, Michelle made a few career shifts until she found  a way for her goals to meet her values. And, she’s still going through this process today, meeting more and more goals, as the eternal Achiever® that she is.

An Achiever® might be driven to check boxes off…

In short, learn from Michelle’s example. If your Achiever® takes control and goes unbalanced for too long, you could start checking boxes simply for the sake of meeting goals like she did. An Achiever® might be driven to check boxes off that they do not even like if their strength is out of whack. So, when setting goals, be sure to lean into your other strengths or seek trusted counsel to ensure you really want to check those boxes. In Michelle Obama’s case, she leaned on Barrack’s Intellection® to redefine achievement on her own terms.

So, what are some strengths you could pair with your Achiever®? Do you have those strengths? Does someone you trust have those strengths? Could you partner with them to meet a goal of balancing your Achiever®?