“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
Mark Twain (Author, Tom Sawyer)
“Sweetie, if you’re going to be two-faced, at least make one of them pretty.”
Marilyn Monroe (Actress, The Seven Year Itch)
“The secret to success is to offend the greatest number of people.”
George Bernard Shaw (Noble Prize Winner, Literature)
It was Halloween and I had to work.
I wasn’t supposed to work but I agreed to take someone’s shift waiting tables.
I was working at a resort restaurant, wearing a ridiculous turquoise shirt with short blue shorts and an apron.
It was embarrassing. And snug.
My section was slow and the manager told me to go home early.
But I had to close out my tables first.
A polite, well-dressed couple had just been seated in my section.
After they ate dinner, we started talking and I found out that they ran a multimillion-dollar research company.
I told them I was looking for a job.
I was in the middle of a gap year between my last year of college and my first year of graduate school.
The couple gave me their card and two weeks later, after a series of interviews, they gave me the job.
It was like something out of the movies.
They trained me and introduced me to a completely different world.
I started wearing suits, attending medical conferences, and giving presentations.
They gave me a Cadillac and set me up in a penthouse condo.
For a while, I felt like I had hit the lottery.
I was in my early 20’s and living like a multimillionaire.
I had dozens of coffee and cocktail meetings with successful entrepreneurs and business magnates every week.
We all laughed together and everyone agreed with my ideas and I agreed with everyone else’s ideas.
Life was easy and relaxed.
But after a few months, nothing changed.
I went to meetings, smiled and laughed, talked and talked, and that was it.
Life was good but it wasn’t great.
One day I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the person looking back at me.
I had gained 20 pounds.
I’d stopped doing the things I loved like reading and writing.
I stopped sleeping well too.
I was more successful and popular than I had ever been, yet I felt weaker in every way.
What It Truly Means To Be Successful In Life
Success is not a popularity contest.
It’s also not measured by the size of your paycheck.
A large-scale survey by Strayer University interviewed 2,011 Americans ages 18 and up and found that 67% of those surveyed associate success with achieving personal goals; 66% cited “good relationships with friends and family”; and 60% said “loving what you do for a living.”
The reason so many people define success as achieving personal goals over being popular and well paid is because growth is more valuable than significance.
Still, too many people fall into the trap of chasing significance.
These people vie for jobs and promotions that steal their time and trap them into lives they end up hating.
They think that a more significant title and subordinates who agree blindly with them are signs of success.
In reality, things like inflated positions and forced admiration are false signs of success.
5 False Signs Of Achieving Success In Life
Setting strong goals for your life, goals that you choose and that you are passionate about, is the key to success.
Likewise, joining a power network of like-minded people is a prerequisite for true success.
The problem is that the world constantly bombards you with false ideas of success.
You’re told that popularity is a sign of success. Being relaxed and good at what you do are signs of success.
You’re told that having a lot of responsibility is a secret of success too. So is being admired and busy.
In reality, these signs are mirages. They’re fake.
The truest sign of success is you setting a measurable, personalized goal for your life and achieving it.
Growing your power network and growing in your passion for life are signs of success, not popularity and paychecks.
If you want to achieve real success, you have to start ignoring fake signs of success.
Here are 5 false signs of success to avoid for truly getting ahead in life…
1. More people agree with you.
Popularity is a sign you’re headed in the wrong direction.
When everyone starts agreeing with you, when your life makes everyone around you feel comfortable, you need to pause and reflect.
This kind of mass appeal is not a sign of success, it’s a sign that you’re about to become obsolete.
You’re about to become the status quo.
It’s impossible to occupy a status quo position and a successful position at the same time.
If you want to be truly successful, fight hard to make your ideas popular. Then, once they start becoming popular, change directions.
Create a movement and don’t stop moving.
When people start jumping on your bandwagon, swerve and go faster until your fake followers fall off.
Make the people on your bandwagon work to stay on. Make them earn it. Make them mean it.
Most people will only admire you when you’re doing what they want you to do.
Or, they’ll admire you when things are going well but not when things get tough.
Learn to keep people who admire you at a distance. Make it a point to cut fair weather people out of your life.
Success is being able to tell the difference between these fake friends and your real friends.
2. You have less stress in your life.
Stress is good for you.
One of the biggest misconceptions about success is that it must be accompanied with low levels of stress.
Too many people have bought into the idea of living the “good life.”
What does this even mean?
Is the good life a life where problems don’t exist?
Ask yourself, “Have you ever lived a day in your life without a single problem?”
No, of course not.
Think back to a really big problem you had and eventually overcame.
What happened when you got past that problem?
Did you sit around and do nothing? Do you celebrate your success day in and day out for years?
Of course not.
Instead, you went and found a new problems to take on.
Success requires stress. Health requires stress too.
Studies reported in eLife show that the right amount of stress rejuvenates your brain and improves your overall performance and health.
Too little stress, on the other hand, leads to boredom and sadness.
If you want to be successful, stay stressed, not relaxed.
3. You have more responsibility.
Anyone can conjure up responsibility to make you feel more important.
Your boss can invent a handful of important tasks and tell you that the success of the company depends on their completion.
Your friends and family can fabricate some life-or-death matter that they’re responsible for to make themselves seem more important.
Anyone can manufacture responsibility.
Responsibility is just another word for obligation.
Very often, people will thrust their desires and expectations on you in the form of responsibility.
They’ll play to your ego by making you feel important.
“Only you can take on this responsibility, no one else can manage it.”
Or, they’ll make you feel guilty.
“You’ve put me in a tough place and I’m counting on you to be a morally responsible person and come through for me.
Either way, these people are using responsibility to distract you and take advantage of you.
The only way to protect yourself against this kind of ruse is by understanding that success is not measured by how many things you can take on, it’s measured by how many things you can let go of.
4. You’re good at what you do.
Mastery is a sign that you should be doing something else.
Once you master one area of your life, you must move on to another area.
Too many people believe that success is getting really good at something and then coasting.
They get a new job, work hard to get up to speed, then settle in and let themselves go.
This letting go is what causes a lot of so-called masters to fall.
CEO, professors, bestselling authors, and top-level people of all kinds routinely get comfortable.
They stop pushing themselves. They stop growing.
Then, some kid protégé comes along and crushes them.
Being good at what you do is not a sign that you’re successful. It’s a sign that you’d better start taking on new challenges.
It’s a sign you need more stress in your life. You need more growth.
As soon as you settle into being good at something is when someone else starts to overtake you.
5. You’re busy.
People who brag about being busy are not successful, they’re average.
These people brag about busyness because nothing else in their lives is worth talking about.
Busyness does not lead to achievement or fulfillment. It’s not a sign of these things either.
Just the opposite. Busyness prevents achievement and fulfillment.
If you’re so busy that you don’t have time to breath, you’re wasting your life.
True success in life is having time for yourself.
True success is being able to look ahead and see where you’re going. It’s being able to map out a long-term, strategic plan for your future.
Telling people you’re busy may be an ego boost. It might make you feel important. But it’s not making you more successful.
Busy people are pawns.
Busy people don’t make things happen. Things just happen to them.
To truly achieve success in life and get ahead, stop valuing busyness and seeing it as a sign of success. Start seeing it as the enemy. Start protecting your time and mental energy. At the same time, stop valuing agreement and admiration. Stop taking on extra responsibilities out of guilt or pride. Never settle. Never stop growing. Keep pushing yourself. When you get good at something, push even harder. Keep changing directions and taking on new challenges. This is the true way to live a successful life.
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