How to Be a Super-Achiever

By: Kent S. Greenawalt

Developing Your “Achievement Muscle”

Have you ever watched a cat stretching its entire body after a nap? Or a student in a library taking a break from the books by standing up and stretching? Of course you have, and you do it yourself every day. It’s a natural body action, designed to keep the muscles limber and relieve tension. Muscles were made to move.

What about muscles that have been immobilized, constrained from movement? Studies have shown that muscle atrophy begins after no more than six hours of immobilization,1 and continues at a rate of 1.5% per day.Disuse causes decrease in muscle mass; immobilization causes a weakening in the muscle tissue. After a time, the muscle can no longer perform its functions adequately. Rehabilitation therapy often becomes necessary in order to restore the muscle to proper function.

Our desire to achieve works in the same manner as a muscle; it needs to s-t-r-e-t-c-h! The goals you set for yourself and your practice are attainable, but you’re going to have to s-t-r-e-t-c-h for them! And the more you stretch, the more you can achieve.

So why aren’t we all super-achievers? Why do some people never seem to attain their dreams and desires? The answer isn’t failure; it’s fear of failure. Elbert Hubbard said it best: “The greatest mistake a person can make is to be afraid of making one.” And with fear comes immobilization of that precious achievement muscle, and the longer a muscle is left unused, the more therapy is required to bring it back to full strength.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL! You’ve failed many times, although you don’t remember. You fell down the first time you tried to walk. You almost drowned the first time you tried to swim. Did you hit the ball the first time you swung a bat? Heavy hitters, the ones who hit the most home runs, also strike out a lot:

  • R.H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on.
  • English novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips, before he published 564 books.
  • Babe Ruth struck out 1330 times. But he got 714 home runs.

Muscles need resistance in order to become stronger, and your achievement muscle works the same way. Opposition, difficulty, even failure are just degrees of resistance that you can and will overcome. Make use of motivational tapes, books, speakers, seminars, etc. as a form of “muscle therapy.” Make your plan and work your plan. Set your goals and focus on them. And S-T-R-E-T-C-H!


1. Moritani T, Devries H. Neural factors versus hypertrophy in the time course of muscle strength gain. Am J Phys Med 1979; 8(3):115-130.

2. Walmsley RP. Physiotherapy Canada. October, 1976.