“Success myths are myths.” – Jeffrey Feldberg
I grew up poor. In fact, I can’t even say I grew up in a poor working class family because my dad wasn’t even working most of the time. That’s how poor we were; welfare, bottom rung, wrong side of the track poor. It also didn’t help that my dad was very verbal about what he thought of successful people (here is a clue: it wasn’t positive). This, of course, affected my thinking about success. The ‘Stinking Thinking’ I grew up surrounded by contributed to me embracing and believing many falsehoods about success when I was growing up.
But I know I’m not alone…
There are at least 10 myths that people tend to believe about success and successful people. And, whether you agree with them or not, I can guarantee that MYTH is what they are.
1- Successful people got lucky. This one is probably the most popular. Think about it… If we believe that successful people got lucky, why bother trying to be successful? It’s really a good way to cop out from even trying, right? And the fact is that the great majority of successful people worked very hard to become successful. Thomas Jefferson put it this way:
“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson
2- Successful people have discovered ‘The Secret’ to success. Success has no ‘secret sauce’. Does it leave clues? Yes, plenty. But the good news about these is that they are duplicatable. The successful possess every day the same 24 hours that you and I do. What they do with their allotted time is what sets them apart. And guess what? What they do, you can do also.
“The secret of success is this: there is no secret of success.” – Elbert Hubbard
3- Successful people took advantage of people. My dad loved this one. He embraced it and taught it to my young and impressionable mind. As a result, it took me years to undo my belief that the successful weren’t evil. The fact is quite the opposite. Most (yes, there are exceptions) highly successful people got there by actually adding value and helping more people than the average Joe. Now, are there some wicked rich people? Yep. But guess what… there are also many wicked poor people (I should know, I grew up in those neighborhoods). You must rise above all that and take this advice to heart:
“Become too busy trying to succeed to worry about people with bad intentions.”
4- Hard work is the key to success. This one is also very popular and adhered to by… the unsuccessful. I don’t want to discourage all the hard workers out there, but hard work alone isn’t the answer. I know plenty of very hard workers who aren’t successful. That’s the sad truth. Is hard work a requirement? Sure. Is it an essential quality? Of course. But smart work will bring you much greater dividends than hard work ever will.
“Hard work alone won’t guarantee success, but without hard work, I’ll guarantee you won’t have success.” – Bruce Pearl
5- Success is linked with an event in one’s life. Some people believe that people who have become successful encountered an event in their life that brought them success. They believe that something good happened on the path of the successful that changed their life forever. Life will bring many circumstances our way; some good, some bad. But the chances that life would bring a circumstance or event that would catapult you to the top of the ladder are very slim. The choices you make are a much greater determinant than this.
“Success does not happen to you, it happens because of you.”
6- Success is for others, but not for me. Some people believe that success is somehow beyond their reach. They believe that it’s for some people, but not for them. They believe it’s for the gifted, blessed, smart, good-looking, educated, charismatic, etc. In short, they believe it’s for those who ‘have it going on.’ Well, the good news is that this is a myth too. You’re welcome.
“The strongest factor in success is self-esteem: believing you can do it, believing you deserve it, and believing you’ll get it.”
7- Success is in the future. Some believe that success is out there yonder, under the rainbow… somewhere out there. I once met a girl at a book signing who told me: “I too am going to write a book. I can see it. It’s in my future.” When I told her that “if she is going to write a book, SHE needs to write it. The book won’t write itself”, she seemed offended. What can I say, I have a way with people. Ahem. And no, she didn’t buy my book…LOL!
“Some people dream about success while other wake up and work hard at it.” – Napoleon Hill
8- Success is achieved through opportunity. Some people are just waiting for their ‘Big Break.’ They just didn’t get it yet. They weren’t given the opportunity for it. They believe that if they were just given that break, they would finally get it. I’ll be honest here: I fell for that on occasion. There were times when, in bouts with self-pity, I thought that life was unfair because I was just not getting a break. Here’s how I overcame these bouts: I kicked myself in the arse and told myself: “Suck it up buttercup… and get back to work.”
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison
9- Success is based on a relationship. You’ve probably heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” While having a good network of capable achievers around you sure doesn’t hurt, some take this to the extreme. They believe that it is only through relationships and nothing else that one can achieve success. That’s just not true. Actually, in the beginning, many achiever’s only relationships with the greats are… through their books. They didn’t have the right knowledge, connections, network, or mentors. They had to go out and make those connections and build those relationships; and this is just one part of what they needed to become successful.
“In the end success is not about who you know, but about you know who.” – Robert Breault
10- Success is for the money-hungry. This is another one that I used to believe. I spoke about it in more detail in another blog post (Riches Are No Vice, Poverty is No Virtue). Those who believe that only the money-hungry will achieve success usually don’t bother even trying to gain success for themselves. Why? Because they reason, “I am virtuous. I am not a shallow, money-hungry, materialistic jerk.” It is ironic though, that those who pride themselves in this limited belief are actually not living up to their full potential and limiting the positive impact they would have otherwise. Here is what they fail to understand: Many successful and wealthy people became that way without money on their radar at first. They just followed their passion and calling and became world-class at whatever they did. The money came as a by-product of using their gift to add value to people.
“Success is not the result of making money; earning money is the result of success – and success is in direct proportion to our service.” Earl Nightingale
Are there more myths related to success not on this list? Probably. And I could maybe find more myself. But I found ten to be a nice, round number. In any case, I want to close this post by giving you a solid rule of thumb to follow in order to actually become successful. And rest assured, this is no myth. Here it is:
“The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” – John C. Maxwell
Easy? No. And yet so simple, isn’t it? Yes, definitely simple. You see, we often over complicate the recipe to success when in fact, it doesn’t have to be rocket science. The proof is also in the pudding. I mean, most high achievers’ lives testify to this rule of thumb. They all possessed a high degree of discipline, consistency, and work ethic. I always recommend that people make up a list of four, five, or six things that they are committed to doing every-single-day no-matter-what. These activities need to be related to the achievement of your ultimate goal. Over time, as you will soon experience… the positive results will begin to show. It worked for all the greats in any field and for all time; it works for me, and trust me… it’ll work for you too.
Not only that, but by sowing those positive habits every day in your life, you will eventually reap a success that you once only believed was a myth.
May God bless you as you decide to put those success myths to rest in your life and as you keep working towards your vision.