The Secret Shame of High Performing Professionals

by | Guest Post, Health

High Performers can produce, no doubt about it. The amount of productivity and results that comes out of a high performer is impressive. Crank it out and getter done. Boo-yah. Drop the mic.

But like most things, there’s more to the story and something always deeper than the surface. The reality is others see our “on stage” not our “back stage”. People simply don’t see the toll that not resting is doing to us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Or at least yet.

This is a guest post by Bryan Paul Buckley.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 40 percent of all American adults are sleep-deprived, clocking significantly less than the recommended minimum seven hours of sleep per night. (Source: The Sleep Revolution by Adrianna Huffington)

My assumption, since this used to be me, is many high performers sleep far less than seven hours, especially of “quality sleep” on a consistent basis and simply don’t stop to rest. It’s a necessary evil.

The reality is many High Performers secret shame is they simply don’t know how to rest.

This is my confession. I’m Bryan Paul Buckley. I’m a high performer, and I don’t know how to rest.

And it’s also the confession of many others. We’re in this together if we’re honest.

We’re good at projecting everything is okay. And who will question us with the result we’re putting up?!

I feel like a high-performance car which looks great on the outside, even impressive on the inside but just don’t open the hood!

I constantly run my RPMs in the red and my gas tank on fumes all the while putting in cheap gas, avoiding maintenance, and God forbid I need a repair which then better be quick and cheap as possible.

Just get me back on the road, man! Can you relate?



    High Performers are highly skilled at minimizing anything that slows them down. We say the following comments:

    • Rest is a waste of time
    • I don’t really need as much as everyone else
    • I’ll sleep when I’m dead (even Bon Jovi titled a song by that name!)

      Sadly, it often results in mentally belittling others who do rest. We judge, and when we do, we feel better about ourselves as a result.
      Been there, done that? C’mon, man. I know there are more people out there doing this than me.


    High Performers have a unique gift of always being busy. Every moment is calculated and used to produce results. Not slow down. And as a result, we’re always on the move.

    We act like we’re allergic to rest or it’s the girl in high school that has a “great personality” your friend says you just have to meet. Uh… no thanks.

    Sadly, we fill our schedule, so rest doesn’t even have a chance. I’ve mastered this one. I can fill my time to push rest out of even the realm of possibility. Who can question me with my results? (can you say masking?)

    And I’ve paid the price for it. The Energizer Bunny who lost his energy only to finally figure out the Energizer Bunny actually uses rechargeable batteries. Who knew?

    I can tell myself half-truths all day long on why rest is optional for me. Here are some of my go-to statements then the actual full truth:

    • I have too much to do to rest (which ironically is my choice and I could choose to slow down and the world not end)
    • It’s my current season of life and won’t always be this way (but I’ve made it my way of life, not season of life)
    • I’m fine with what little rest I get right now (yeah, because I don’t know what being fully rested actually feels like)

      The irony is no one seeing our “on stage” sees the mind games we play “back stage” nor would they really care. They may even like us better if we’re rested and not so driven all of the time. Imagine that.


    But the truth is many High Performers are afraid of slowing down. Whoa. Now you just got personal. I’ve come to the point of realizing just how much of my identity has been deeply found in my ability to produce results. And I can’t produce results if I’m resting, right?But that flawed thinking couldn’t be further from the truth. I can rest; I’ve just not wanted to slow down. Why? I mean, at a heart level, why am I not stopping long enough to truly rest?I was afraid of what I would find if I slowed down. Here is my truth serum of why I feared rest:

    • Would I be replaced?
    • Would I still be needed?
    • Would I like what I found when I slowed down and reflected on what was truly important to me?

      Can you relate to any of those or have you not come to a place of such honesty yet? If not, I hope this post has challenged you in this area.


I didn’t know how to slow down, unplug, relax, and truly receive the deep benefits of rest.

It simply came down to this simple revelation for me:
I know I need to but don’t know how to rest.

Not knowing how to truly rest is my secret shame and many of those High Performers I’ve met. This is solvable, productivity fans.

But the first step is accepting the secret shame of a high performer is we don’t know how to rest.

Join me on this journey to own up to it and be willing to make the necessary changes to receive the benefits of rest.

Bryan Paul Buckley is an Energy Performance Expert who helps business professionals and business travelers to leave the Exhaustion Cycle and live in the Energy Cycle. Bryan is also a speaker, coach, and the host of the Energy Edge Podcast. He’s a husband of one and father of five and lives with his tribe in the Chicago land area.

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