The Need to Achieve

Over the years, behavioral scientists have observed that some people have an intense need to achieve; others—perhaps the majority—do not seem to be as concerned about achievement.

This phenomenon fascinated David C. McClelland. For over twenty years, he and his associates at Harvard University studied this urge to achieve and developed the needs-based motivational model, which consists of three motivational forces. The following is an explanation of one of the motivational forces—the ‘need for achievement’—as found in his book The Achieving Society.

The Need for Achievement
A person who is ‘achievement motivated’ seeks achievement, attainment of realistic but challenging goals, and advancement in the job. There is a strong need for feedback as to achievement and progress, and a need for a sense of accomplishment.

What Can Get In Your Way
Having to feed one’s ego on the job, act as though you are more important than other people, and rule by forceful power, can get in the way of you developing the people skills necessary to work with others.

And, if you show up for work needing to be liked by your co-workers, peers, and staff, your decision-making capabilities can be affected.  In other words, you might not say or do what you need to because you don’t want to get anyone mad at you.

Seven Characteristics to Succeed
A determined, results-driven approach is almost invariably present in the character make-up of all successful business people and entrepreneurs. Achievement-motivated people share these seven characteristics and attitudes:

  1. Achievement is more important than material or financial reward.
  2. Achieving the aim or task gives greater personal satisfaction than receiving praise or recognition.
  3. Financial reward is regarded as a measurement of success, not an end in itself.
  4. Security is not the prime motivator, or is status.
  5. Reliable and factual feedback is essential because it enables measurement of success—not for reasons of praise or recognition.
  6. Achievement-motivated people constantly seek improvements and ways of doing things better.
  7. Achievement-motivated people will logically favor jobs—like sales, business management, and entrepreneurial roles—along with responsibilities that offer flexibility and opportunity that naturally satisfy their needs to set and achieve goals.     

How to Use This
View your challenges and obstacles as an opportunity for you to achieve your goals.  Find ways to problem-solve. Stop worrying what everyone will think of you. Let go of needing all of the control. Stay centered by believing you have everything it takes to find solutions and move forward.

Action Steps

  • Don’t sacrifice your own goals to keep someone else happy.
  • Don’t stay stuck in your comfort zone; get out of there and reach your full potential. 
  • Don’t be afraid of failing.
  • Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you begin—just begin.
  • Don’t waste time; get organized and prioritize.
  • Don’t block out other people; let them help you achieve your goals.

Hope that helps. And, remember, love what is.