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15 Reasons The Eldest Child Is A High Achiever

15 Reasons The Eldest Child Is A High Achiever

Did you know that the majority of Ivy League students in Harvard and other prestigious schools are firstborns or only children? How about the fact that all 12 men to have walked on the moon were either eldest or only children?

Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, JK Rowling, and Beyoncé are also all firstborn children in their families. If you are betting on which child will be a high achiever and most successful at school, you should probably place your bets on the eldest.

According to a recent study carried out at The University of Essex, eldest children are high achievers and more likely to outdo their younger siblings. While it’s dangerous to make generalizations and there are always exceptions, older siblings generally have more intelligence and success.

Here are 15 reasons why the eldest children are such high achievers.

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1. They are down-to-earth and honest.

There is not much room to cut corners for firstborns. That’s because they are expected to be role models and pacesetters for their younger brothers and sisters. The eldest child finds that they have to be more truthful, caring, and honest to prove a point to their parents (even in adulthood).

2. They are ambitious and self-driven.

As pacesetters and role models, the eldest children are programmed for excellence and achievement from a young age. They are ambitious because they have to “lead the way.” This is a powerful variable that plays an important role in a person’s drive for success, and it shows in the eldest child throughout their life.

3. They are hardy and better able to handle stress.

That’s because they’ve had to learn how to adapt and handle pressure in the family from the time they were young. The eldest child is a mini-parent in most families, especially in large ones. They are exposed to many of the challenges their parents have in raising the kids. As the younger siblings grow up, the firstborn doesn’t always get their way, equating to greater stress and a greater need to adapt even more. This process is tough, but it also helps firstborns develop thick skin — a necessary ingredient for success.

4. They are dependable and take the lead.

As mini-parents, the eldest child feels the pressure to take the lead and care for the family, especially their younger siblings. Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Group), who has two younger sisters, thinks this responsibility placed on the eldest child is significant. “Firstborns are usually given the responsibility of looking after younger siblings,” he told the Financial Times, “and this can help ingrain leadership skills at a young age.

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5. They are resourceful and work harder.

That’s because they are expected to take on leadership and caregiving roles in the family. As a result, the eldest child finds that he has to work harder, be more hands-on, and be more resourceful. This resourcefulness gives firstborn children a marked edge for success throughout their life.

6. They are disciplined and consistent in manners.

Parents discipline the eldest child more strictly and often become more lenient as they have more kids, in what has been referred to as the “lazy-parent theory.” No wonder the first child always feels that younger siblings have it easier. A parent’s reputation for maintaining strict discipline with the eldest child makes the child maintain more consistent standards of discipline throughout their life.

7. They are always figuring things out on their own.

Who would blame them, really? Unlike later siblings, who have someone to pioneer and instruct them on which path to take, the eldest children have no one to teach them. They have to explore, risk, and learn most of what they know on their own. That’s not easy; however, it instills them with valuable life skills.

8. They always share the knowledge they acquire.

Firstborns feel it is their duty to diligently teach and instruct their younger siblings. In teaching the younger ones, the eldest child grows smarter in the process. This tendency to search for knowledge and teach others continues into adulthood and gives firstborns an edge. After all, knowledge is power.

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9. They are intelligent and scholarly.

Albert Einstein was also a firstborn child. It looks like his intelligence wasn’t a coincidence. Numerous studies have found that firstborns are generally more intelligent and score higher on IQ tests. History even shows that firstborns are more likely to become president. Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were all firstborns. Some people have suggested that it’s genetic, in the sense that later kids receive diminished “genetic endowment.” Whatever the reason, the eldest child tends to have a healthier brain and exhibits higher cognitive abilities.

10. They stay in education longer and are better qualified.

Feifei Bu, the PhD candidate (at the time) who led the University of Essex study, analyzed data from more than 3,500 brothers and sisters. She concludes: “My research revealed firstborn children have higher educational aspirations and this translates into higher educational attainment.” What surprised Bu the most is that the birth order effect was much stronger than the impact of gender, in terms of attainment. Even taking into account the education and professional status of their parents, the study found firstborns were 7% more likely to aspire to stay in the educational system longer than their younger siblings.

11. They get a greater share of their parents’ money to pursue their interests.

Families initially spend more money on the first child, especially when considering multiple kids. That’s because firstborns hit an early start in costly private schools, extracurricular activities, tutoring, and all the other things that increase the chances of success. This happens with no competition appearing until later when siblings emerge. When siblings are born, the eldest child may lose their privileged run. Of course, the number of years between children is an important variable in this situation.

12. They are less likely to do drugs.

Studies have found that firstborns are less likely to do drugs and get pregnant at a young age. Although these two realities are not always impediments to success, they account for something.

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13. They are less likely to have their formative years disrupted by divorce.

Divorce is common in today’s society, but it is more likely to happen after the first child is past their formative years. The first child arrives into a stable family where the parents are still blossoming in love. Later children may not be so lucky. They are more likely to be disrupted by a family crisis.

14. They enjoy their parents’ first and purest love.

Parents tend to love and devote more time and care to their eldest child because it’s their first child. The eldest children are the delicate babies carried around and breastfed most of the time. Not to mention they are the ones who are constantly watched over to make sure they are breathing in their crib. The first child is the only one that ever truly has their parents completely to themselves, while all other children have to share. This has a positive impact on the firstborn’s self-worth and self esteem throughout their life.

15. They get the most mature treatment.

Parents pay a different kind of attention to the eldest child, giving them the most mature treatment. The theory is that if you treat a child like an adult, they will respond the same way. That explains why, even in adulthood, firstborns come across as more mature and accomplished. V. Joseph Hotz, a research associate of the Duke Population Research Institute observes that, “Reputations matter for politicians, teachers, and even used car salesmen.” Being perceived as mature, responsible, and reputable is a critical factor for high achievement and success in life.

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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