Greg McKeown, author and Young Global Leader at World Economic Forum
Why do capable people fail to break through to the next level? It’s a question McKeown began pursuing an answer to when he quit law school 15 years ago. “The answer to the question, to my great surprise, is success,” he wrote in his post 12 Myths that Lead to a Busy, Unfulfilling Life.
He first noticed the phenomenon when working with executives in successful Silicon Valley companies. “The success bred options and opportunities which undermined the very focus that led to success in the first place. In other words, I found that success can be a catalyst for failure,” McKeown wrote. What often happens, he contended, is that successful people get distracted by trivial things.
“If we’re not careful, our lives become dictated by ideas which sound convincing at some level but are really myths,” he wrote. He pointed to 12 big myths that can lead to a stressful, unsatisfying career and life.
“If everyone is doing it then I need to do it. Let the fear of missing out consume you. Buy into the cultural bubble that glorifies being busy and checking social media and email constantly. Don’t pay attention to the quiet voice telling you a different life is possible. Just go with the crowd,” he wrote. The truth, “There is a joy in missing out. Discover it.”
“I’ll stay up late and get it done. If you ever mention sleep to someone remember to talk about how little you’ve had lately. Boast about getting five hours last night, or about how you pulled an all-nighter earlier this week. It’s okay to be tired and to admit it. But don’t show weakness—or worse, laziness— by suggesting you need a full eight hours,” he wrote. The truth, he wrote, “Sleep is for high performers.”
“I have plenty of time left to get to that. Of course you aren’t doing exactly what you feel like should be doing, but there will be time to do what you want to do after you’re finished doing what you have to do. You’ll get to it later. It’s a long life,” he wrote. The truth: “Life is pathetically short.”
The overarching lesson is simple, McKeown wrote. “When organising your life, there are only two options: The disciplined pursuit of the essential or the undisciplined pursuit of the nonessential,” he wrote. “And that matters because if you don’t prioritise your life, someone else will.”
Theresa Sullivan, career coach at Wayfinder Advisors
Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemies, contended Sullivan in her post Five Lies that Could be Ruining Your Career (and Your Life).
“That voice we hear in our head recites some pretty interesting narratives so often and so frequently that we really start believing them after a while,” she wrote. “These… turn into our beliefs about ourselves, others and the world in general. They create our reality.”
The trouble is, what we think in our own minds creates a reality that is also just our own. “There are as many different realities… as there are human beings,” Sullivan wrote. “That’s good, because it means the reality we live in isn’t already fixed.”
Then there are the “lies people tell themselves that keep them in jobs and careers and relationships that are bad for them,” she wrote. “It's often easier to have a victim mentality that the cards have been dealt and whatever you've ended up with is all you'll ever have, or that you really have no options left, except terrible ones, and everybody knows it.”
Why do we think this way? “The stories we tell often start out as protection for our ego; they make us feel better about bad situations,” Sullivan wrote. “But then they spiral into excuses and beliefs that have the potential to ruin us.”
Sullivan offered the top five lies that professionals tell themselves. Among them:
“I haven’t found my passion/I don’t have a passion. Is that true? You cannot think of one thing that you love doing or being? Is there something you do better than most other people you know? If you had a free day all to yourself to do whatever you wanted in the world, could you think of something you might gravitate toward?,” she wrote.
“It’s too late to change direction now… How many years of life do you think you have left? Now multiply that by 8,765, which is the number of hours in each year. Is that really too little time for you to change direction?,” she wrote. “Never put off a goal because it will take too long — the time will pass anyway. Might as well spend it working toward a goal that makes life fun.”
“I hate my job now, but I will be happy as soon as I [get the promotion/finish the project/collect my bonus/get my degree]. Are you sure? This one thing is all that is holding you back from happiness and liking your job? How long do you think you'll stop hating your job after you accomplish this magical goal that will make you happy? Happiness experts tell us it's pretty temporary.”
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