The traits of Sensitive Strivers are often seen as weaknesses, but they may actually be your biggest professional strengths.
A Sensitive Striver is a high-achiever who is also more sensitive to their emotions, the world, and the behavior of those around them.
These professionals have a special set of genes that leads them to process information more deeply than their less sensitive peers. Because of this, they pick up on subtle changes in their environment.
If you relate to this personality type, then you likely have the six core traits of Sensitive Strivers. These qualities form the acronym STRIVE.
You may easily recognize yourself in some of these descriptions while some of the others might not feel as familiar or relevant. The STRIVE qualities exist on a spectrum like any other trait.
The 6 Traits of Sensitive Strivers
Processing complex information comes naturally to you because you’re perceptive and have a heightened response to what’s happening within and around you. You thrive best with structure and routine. Without it, you get easily overstimulated, especially if you’re under pressure (both real and imagined).
You’re highly self-aware, reflective, and intuitive. Your ability to see nuance and synthesize information makes you especially original and creative. On the flip side, your brain is often racing. It’s not uncommon for you to overanalyze day-to-day experiences, and your above-average self-awareness can veer into self-consciousness and self-criticism.
You’re dependable and people trust you and look to you for support. Hardworking (perhaps to a fault), you can’t bear to let people down, even if it entails sacrifice. A never-ending desire to be liked and to please others is exhausting, contributing to burnout.
Sensitive Strivers live to exceed expectations, not only on performance reviews but in every aspect of life. You devote substantial energy to your career and care deeply about making an impact. Nothing makes you more excited than hitting goals or knocking items off your (very long) to-do list, but you often set an unrealistically high bar for success.
You are keenly attuned to changes and tend to be aware of subtleties in your environment, from your boss’s body language to the general mood of a meeting. You listen well and try to be responsive to people’s needs. Being on high alert can be draining, however, and you may sometimes perceive danger or a threat where there is none.
Sincere and empathetic, you feel things in a big way and have complex emotional responses. You’re able to experience the richness of positive emotions like inspiration and gratitude but can also get stuck in unpleasant feelings like annoyance and disappointment.
While many Sensitive Strivers rise quickly in their careers, they often face a daily battle with stress, anxiety, and self-doubt.
While it may seem counterintuitive, these qualities, when taken to an extreme, can actually become a liability.
For example, it’s great to be detail-oriented, but if you need to read every email ten times before hitting send, your productivity may unwittingly grind to a halt. If you’re loyal and caring to an extreme, then personality differences that naturally arise on teams can derail you or prevent you from having boundaries that protect your well-being.
That’s why it’s so important to know yourself, to see how the STRIVE qualities impact your life, and to begin to rebalance any qualities you may be overusing.
How to Start Harnessing Your Sensitive Superpowers
1. Practice seeing your action through the STRIVE lens.
If you have trouble rating yourself at first, don’t worry. As you go about your business over the next few days, notice tasks and situations you approach with confidence versus those you struggle with. Then ask yourself what STRIVE qualities are at play in either scenario.
2. Build a supportive community
What was once an invisible trait can now be a helpful framework for others to understand you better. Tell your family, close friends, and trusted coworkers that you’re a Sensitive Striver and introduce them to the STRIVE qualities. Support is crucial, and these conversations can provide valuable insight into how your STRIVE qualities are balanced or unbalanced. You may also discover that others are Sensitive Strivers, too.
3. Focus on what’s working
The traditional approach to problem-solving is to focus on the negative and to try and fix what’s wrong. Instead, tune into when you are your best possible self and remind yourself how and why your STRIVE qualities are an asset.