“If everyone is defining a problem or solving it one way and the results are subpar, this is the time to ask, What if I did the opposite? Don’t follow a model that doesn’t work. If the recipe sucks, it doesn’t matter how good a cook you are.”
Tim Ferriss (Author; The 4-Hour Work Week)
“The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.”
Tony Robbins (Author; Unlimited Power)
“They laugh at me because I’m different; I laugh at them because they’re all the same.”
Kurt Cobain (Singer and Songwriter; Nirvana)
Sometimes success is misery in disguise.
It was Halloween but I didn’t have any plans so I took someone’s shift at the restaurant. The manager recently ordered new uniforms for the waiters—turquoise shirts with navy blue (short) shorts and a blue apron. It was embarrassing. And snug.
My section was slow so my manager told me to go home early. Just then, the hostess seated an older couple at one my tables. The couple was polite and dressed sharp. After they ate dinner, we started talking and I found out that they ran a biotech company. I told them I was a biology major getting ready for graduate school and they told me about a temporary research position. They gave me their card and two weeks later, after a series of interviews, they gave me the job.
Over the next 6 months I worked closer and closer with the couple until I was spending every day with them. My research position slowly turned into a personal assistant position. I knew things had changed when they called me at 10PM to program their DVD player. Now, I was a researcher, personal assistant, personal shopper, barista, errand boy and technical support specialist all in one. But, I was okay with this because they kept increasing my salary and giving me me perks like a Cadillac and a 3 bedroom condo to use for business purposes.
What Does Success Looks Like?
For a while, I felt like I hit the lottery. I was in my early 20’s and living like a multimillionaire. This—I thought—was what success looked like. I thought that the secret to success was working hard, catching a lucky break, and riding a wave of freebies.
My so-called success was short lived. One day I looked in the mirror and realized that I had gained 20 pounds of fat. I started to notice other things too. For example, I was only getting about 3-4 hours of sleep a night. I was so stressed about being on call that I wasn’t able to relax. The couple had started watching me too. They moved me into another condo a few floors beneath them and started reprimanding me for any time I spent not working. If they saw me going to the store, or to the gym, or anywhere else, they’d ask me why and then throw it in my face later if my work wasn’t perfect.
I felt trapped. It was like I was being slowly suffocated and there was nothing I could do about it. Sure, I was miserable and my cheeks were huge and my gut poked out for the first time ever. But the money was good and all my friends were jealous. That’s all that matters, right?
Climbing Ladders To Nowhere
If you’re chasing a higher salary and a better job title, you’re dinosaur. In today’s world, salary increases and title promotions are ladders to nowhere. Several surveys, including one by Monster.com and the Pew Research Center, found that most people now define success as flexibility. Flexibility—the ability to work when you want and how you want—is new status symbol. Another study by Accenture showed that flexibility came in ahead of money, recognition and autonomy as the most important determining factor of success. Yet, many people continue to chase bigger salaries and better job titles over increased flexibility. Why?
The majority of the population only has a rough idea of what they want. Sure, they know they want success—they know they want more money and more recognition—but that’s all they know. They don’t know how much money they want or what they’re willing to do to get it. They don’t know what kind of recognition they want or if it will last. They just have a hazy idea of something better. As a result, these people spend their lives chasing things that they don’t even want. They work overtime at a job they hate with difficult people to get promoted to work twice as hard doing something they hate even more. These people imagine how magical their lives will be if they can just convince their bosses to give them the next big raise. Then, these same people are surprised when their raises get them nothing more than a night out at Applebees.
10 Success Myths To Forget
Don’t chase something that will make you miserable if you catch it. The U.S. Census Bureau shows that the average annual income of people 25 years old or older is $32,140. The average annual pay raise is 3% (just above inflation). This means that if the average person works hard year round he might get an extra $68.30/month next year after taxes (not counting inflation). Celebrate good times! Even if you’re a monster and make 100K this year and crush it so hard that your boss gives you a full 5% pay raise—guess what—you’ll only bring home an extra $300/month after taxes (again, not counting inflation). What are you going to do with that? Get a moderately priced car that will sit in your office’s parking lot for 12 hours a day? Save it all and take a 3-day trip to Las Vegas. Then what? You’re right back to where you started—desperately navigating your way through mediocrity.
The only way to break free from mediocrity is to change what you’re chasing. You have to stop chasing myths and start chasing truths. There are several secret to success myths that will make you miserable in life. Before you can find true success, you must identify and avoid these myths. Here are 10 secret to success myths you should forget:
1. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again.
Quitting can be a strategy. Just because you start a book or a movie doesn’t mean you have to finish it. The same is true of anything in life, especially things that suck.
If you get into a relationship or start a job that’s not right for you, don’t keep trying to make it work. All this does is keep you finding the relationship or job that’s really right for you. The key is learning to differentiate dips, plateaus, and normal sticking points from permanent mismatches.
Stop trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Instead, quit. Then, go find some square holes to fill. In the same way, stop wasting your time trying to repair your weaknesses and start leveraging your natural strengths.
Be very selective with your time, energy, and resources. Don’t keep throwing them at something that’s not right for you. Don’t let pride keep you from quitting and don’t let others guilt you into trying again and again. The real secret to success is giving up as soon as you’re not getting the right results back on your investment.
2. A pay raise will make your life better.
Most people work really hard 8 hours a day at jobs they hate wishing and praying that they’ll get promoted to a position that will require them to work 12 hours a day doing something else they hate.
Other people work 80 hours a week for themselves doing something they hate just because they don’t want to work 40 hours a week for someone else. Either way, these people are fighting a losing battle. Sooner or later, each and every one of them will burnout or fail completely.
The problem is that these people are chasing fairy dust. They’re chasing the hazy idea of a better life when they should be chasing specific and measurable short-term goals that are aligned with specific and measurable long-term outcomes. But, most people don’t have goals. Studies show that 80% of the population does not have goals and 99% do not write down or review their goals.
The only thing that will truly make your life better is deciding on something specific you want—something that you’re passionate about—and going after it without hesitation.
3. Ideas are the starting points of all fortunes.
Ideas don’t matter anymore. They’re a dime a dozen—here today, gone today. When it comes to success, action is the limiting factor, not ideas. The truth is ideas are commodities now, they’re sold in online stores and traded on the stock market. In a sense, this has always been the case. Ideas, hopes, and dreams have always been ubiquitous.
The only thing that differentiates a good idea from a bad idea is someone taking action to turn that idea into a reality. There are so many ideas now that it’s impossible to tell which ideas are good and which are bad. The only way to tell is to take action—to test the idea in real world scenarios.
Action is the starting point of all fortunes. Testing, tweaking, and iterating is now the most important part of launching anything from a book to a computer to a drug that just passed phase III clinical trials. Good ideas, by themselves, will not improve your life. You have to take action.
4. There’s always tomorrow.
Tomorrow is dead. It’s gone and you’re never getting another one. Time of death: every second you’re alive. Too many people think that patience and success go hand-in-hand. They think that being successful means finding balance and having perspective. This sounds cute but it’s a fairly tale.
People tell themselves stories about balance and perspective because it makes them feel better about putting off important things until tomorrow or the next day. But you don’t get any tomorrows. All you have is now and if you’re not choking the life out of this moment, you’re wasting it.
Strangle your day until it gives you everything you want. Don’t let up and don’t put your hopes and dreams into the tomorrow bucket because right now there are people pushing themselves harder than you and when you meet them–when you come against them for a client, promotion, or deal of any kind–they’ll beat you.
5. Security will give you freedom.
People are drunk on security nowadays. They stay in relationships that make them feel like they’re drowning because they like the security of having someone to talk to. They stay at jobs that kill their creativity and require them to sit in cubicles all day long because they like security of steady paycheck and below average health insurance.
Most people are afraid of going out on their own for a week let alone a year. They need to surround themselves with familiarity just to feel normal, even if that familiarity is making them miserable. It’s ridiculous. Yes, there are times when you should be safe but you should never value safety over a life well lived.
Too many people, on a daily basis, are sacrificing their freedom to live fully to the illusion of safety. Stop scrambling to protect yourself from catastrophes that rarely happen. It’s not worth what you’re giving up in exchange. Besides, if a real catastrophe does hit, the little steps you took towards being safer will have a minimal effect.
People don’t get the to top by playing it safe. They get there by breaking rules, taking risks, and going against the comfort of the crowd. They get there by chasing mobility, independence, and financial freedom, not safety.
6. Never burn any bridges.
Successful and intelligent people sever ties. This is an absolute truth. You cannot fulfill a worthy purpose for your life by maintaining bridges that connect you to negative people. This kind of bridge maintenance will completely drain your energy and resources. These bridges are just distractions. They’re eyesores and you need to burn them down as soon as possible.
If you make a deal with people who turn out to be no good, follow through on your end of the bargain and then cut them loose forever. Never work with them again. Burn that bridge. If your friends or colleagues double cross you or hang you out to dry, delete them from your life and don’t lose a minute’s sleep over it.
Stop being afraid of losing connections that deep down you know will never help you. Instead, open your eyes to all the like-minded people in the world that you connect with now that you’re not wasting your time on idiots.
7. People don’t change.
People DO change. They change every day and often instantaneously. Stop asking yourself if people will change. Ask, instead, when they will change. How will they change? What will trigger them to change.
The idea that people don’t change has been passed down for centuries as some kind of mystical secret to success. But it’s not a secret. It’s a distraction. It’s a red herring. The real secret to success is understanding human behavior so well that you can quickly identify when someone is likely to go in a different direction.
Anyone can see the obvious. Anyone can see someone do something and then say they’re likely to do it again. But can you see the non-obvious in other people? Can you see the storms of change in others?
True success is helping people change for the better. Everyone has greatness in them. Help them tap into it. The more people you help become great, the greater and more successful you’ll be.
8. Depend on others.
The only way to get to the top is by being pulled up by others, right? You have to know the right people and do whatever it takes to stay on their good side, no matter how guilty, obligated, or worthless they make you feel, right? Believe it or not, this is what most people think. Seriously.
Most people believe that success is an exclusive club, like an exotic lounge with velvet ropes and 300lb bouncers. These people think that they have to work their whole life and give up their freedom inch by inch just to have a shot of getting on the invite list. In reality, there is no list. There’s no room, no lounge, and no party whatsoever. It’s all a ruse.
Other than your health, your network is the most important thing you can invest in. But, this does not mean that you should sacrifice your independence to grow your network. Your goal should be to connect with others without getting lost in the crowd.
Never give up your identity or your autonomy to others, no matter how well-respected or well-funded they are. Connect, but connect without losing yourself.
9. A better life is waiting for you.
Nothing is waiting for you. Nothing. If you think there’s some magical opportunity just hanging out waiting for you to come along and snatch it up, you’re wrong. If you think you’re on your way to some defining moment just because you’re doing all the right things, you’re wrong.
Anything you want, you have to create. Then, once it’s created, you have to take it. Too many people are working their lives away in exchange for an imaginary better life. But there is no better life for them because they’ve never defined what a better life is to them. Get it?
Most people don’t even know where they’re going. They’re just staying busy. They’re diligently mapping out their to-do lists, filling their weekly calendars, and planning out their years–from today onward–without ever thinking about their ultimate endpoint.
Understand that the right lifestyle is not going to create itself. Don’t make believe that there’s a team of people building you nirvana while you grind it out day-to-day doing the same thing. Stop, take a look around, take a look ahead, and decide where you want to go. Define your endpoint and then work backwards to get there.
10. Good things come to those who wait.
People who wait don’t get good things. They get leftovers. Everything you’ve heard about it taking 10 years to be an overnight success and about how people overestimate what they can do in a short amount of time and underestimate what they can do in a long amount of time are true. But, these comfy saying have nothing to do with how much effort you need to apply to your daily life.
When it comes to things like effort, hustle, and grit, you better give everything every day if you want to have a significant impact on the world. Slow and steady doesn’t win the race. Slow and steady loses the race and then gets run over by people hustling like madmen towards their dreams.
To be successful–really successful–you have to wake up every day and run hard toward your goals, scratching, clawing, and digging for every inch. Then, you have to wake up the next day and do the same thing.
Do you agree with this list? Which myths are missing?
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