Some common advice does more harm than good in the context of holistic long-term success.
“The first duty of a man is to think for himself” ― Jose Marti
You probably shouldn’t listen to what you’re about to read.
I only say that because the reason that so many people follow so many incorrect tips for success is they probably read them somewhere just like this.
It’s hard for me to tell you not to listen to all the bullsh*t tips that others try to give you for success when I’m doing the exact same thing by trying to tell you what NOT to do.
Therefore, I’m not saying that you should listen to me, but I would say that you should read this and judge for yourself if what everyone has been telling you is correct, or could there be another way to reach your goals that don’t involve following the path that everyone else follows.
Here are the top five things that I think many people subscribe to when it comes to success that just aren’t necessarily true.
I would argue, in fact, that they do more damage than good when you look at them holistically in the grand scheme of long-term success.
1. Trying to succeed as quickly/fast as possible
You know who “succeeds” early in life? Child actors.
You know how many child actors go on to live miserable lives?
Since 2000, there are tons of stories from Miley Cyrus to Amanda Bynes to Justin Bieber of young talented superstars that achieve success and then go off the rails later in life.
It has always been my assessment that too much success at a young age is actually more detrimental than helpful because it causes individuals to have an ego that is hard to check over time.
There is something to be said of the lessons of humility and overall respect you’ll have for success when you finally get it by grinding a bit through the years and not trying to get there so fast.
Many times, when individuals grind too hard and go all out for their success, they burn out when they finally achieve it. You see this with a lot of young athletes, who give everything to get to the professional level and are just fed up when they finally make it.
Slow and steady is a much better way to get there, so you can smell the roses and enjoy the journey along the way.
2. Trying to be perfect
The only perfect person ever was Jesus and even then most people thought he was full of sh*t.
Trying to be perfect is somewhat in the same lane as trying to be successful too fast and too early.
Trying to do everything perfectly is a surefire way to drive yourself insane over time.
Nobody’s perfect, so always trying to present this image of yourself to others will exhaust you eventually.
Many times if you’re always trying to do everything right, you are avoiding risks that could turn into mistakes. Therefore, you have to throw this mentality out the window because the only way you grow is by getting out of your comfort zone and taking a few risks.
Now, I’m not saying that you should be okay with doing half a** work and not giving your best effort. That won’t do either.
However, what I am saying is that you should be okay with making mistakes, not always having all the answers, and coming in second every now and then.
It builds characters and everyone loves the runner-up that eventually triumphs over her rival one day. Think Michael Jordan FINALLY beating the Detroit Bad Boys in 1990.
3. Putting a hardcore timeline on success
SMART goals can be considered dumb if they cause you to abandon your goals too early.
It does make sense to put a time frame on your goal, but make it flexible based on different things that could happen for which you were not prepared.
No one saw COVID happening, so if you had any major goals or accomplishments that you had planned for 2020, there is a good chance they went all to hell.
Sometimes, when people put a hardcore deadline on themselves, they begin to press and stress how are they going to hit their goal within the established time frame.
This typically does not allow us to be in the best mental state to strategize or execute our already established strategy.
Putting a timeline on when you would like to reach a goal is “smart,” but you should make it flexible based on knowing that you cannot see the future and things will happen that could take you off course.
I equate this to arriving at a family picnic late.
It’s better to get there late than to just turn around and go home because you ran into a little traffic. The mac and cheese will still be good if you warm it up when you get there.
4. Always telling people your goals
Everybody is NOT in your corner.
That’s just the reality of it. There are those people who have your back and want to see you succeed, and there are those who want to see you fail.
There is an easy way to tell the difference.
When you tell your goals to the people who want you to succeed, they are thinking of all the ways you can be successful and achieve what you want.
On the other hand, when you tell your goals to those folks who want to see you fail, they will give you 103 reasons why your idea isn’t going to work.
Stop telling those people your goals.
They don’t want to see you be successful, so why share this with them?
Also, there’s scientific reason to support this.
It has been proven when people talk about their goals, they get a shot of dopamine that almost makes them feel like they achieved their goal.
Do this too much, and you actually cheat yourself out of the motivation to do the work to achieve what you’re telling people you’re going to do.
This is why “Johnny” is ALWAYS talking about what he is going to accomplish in life, but you rarely see “Johnny” putting in the work to do so.
Don’t be like Johnny.
Instead, SHOW what you are going to do instead of just talking about it.
5. Refusing to change course
Iron Mike Tyson had the famous quote, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
You have an idea of what you want to do. You research it. You map out your path and the directions you are going to go and then guess what?
This doesn’t mean that you should give up at the first sign of trouble and not attempt to overcome any obstacles in life. No. That would just be weak, and it would be unlikely you would ever achieve anything of significance.
However, you should be flexible to learn from the experiences you are having and get a feel for what the future is saying may be a better course for you, and adjust accordingly.
If you think about the FANG companies (Facebook (Meta), Amazon, Netflix, and Google), none of them had a sense that they would be doing all the things they are doing today.
They had a vision and plan for their original technology and many of them pivoted to a much better design for their expertise and what would yield a much better return on their investment and time.
Very few startups end up doing the exact thing that they start out to achieve but instead, they are open to understanding where the puck is going (Wayne Gretzky reference there) and skated to it accordingly.
In life, don’t be so focused on reaching one destination that you miss all the other great opportunities that you pass on the drive there.
And while I think this advice is pretty solid and could put you on the path to success, please…please…please…don’t just listen to me.
You’re smart enough to see what works for yourself.