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The 'I Have Arrived Syndrome'​ - Celebrating Milestones on the High-Performance Journey

Rafael Nadal

Six months into my first job as a Management Trainee at Deutsche Bank, I found myself sitting on the bed in my oversized room at the luxuriously appointed Taj President Hotel at Mumbai. I remember the moment with crystal clarity. In a conversation with my reflected self in the mirror, I said these words aloud: ‘I have arrived’. 

I was thinking of the years of hard grind as a student in the United States. With no family family financial backing to fall back on, I had put myself through two sets of Graduate degrees by working at five part-time jobs during the week to make ends meet. I had hardly slept the last two years of that period, walked miles through brutal Boston winters to get to work and the university (Boston College), since I didn’t have money left for public transport after paying my bills. I had also been subject to my fair share of racism in the process. None of which, my early life in a reasonably well off middle-class Indian family, had prepared me for. And now, I was sitting in one of Mumbai’s luxury hotels checked in under my own name, an employee of one of the largest banks in the world. In my young, inexperienced mind, I had arrived

Over the following decades, I would have a lot of opportunities to smile at that memory as my career went through the inevitable ups and downs. What I never did however, was laugh at the naivety of my young self. As I led my teams through crests and troughs of the banking world, achieving highs I had never dreamt of and lows I would love to forget, I picked up a couple of very valuable lessons that would be at the core of my Leadership style. 

The first lesson was that it is all right, indeed necessary, to celebrate success, whether big or small. There is nothing inherently wrong in what I would label the ‘I have Arrived Syndrome’. We all need to dream about goals, work towards them, and when they are achieved, celebrate them. We need to tell ourselves. . ves and our teams at the moment of success - We have Arrived

But the second lesson is as important as the first. A goal is a milestone, it is not the final destination. While we celebrate it, we must already have started preparing for the journey ahead with its inevitable ups and downs. The leader and every member of a High Performing Team must understand and acknowledge that it is the Journey that Determines the Destination. High Performance is never static, it is never done. There is indeed no final destination. 

As Rafael Nadal has demonstrated 22 times so far, High Performance is a continual series of arrivals. 

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