“I don’t see myself being special; I just see myself having more responsibilities than the next man. People look to me to do things for them, to have answers.” – Tupac Shakur
The road to hell is paved with good intentions and nowadays more in the form of misinterpreted life advice. I feel there are so many cultural narratives about the roads that lead you to success that are unhelpful at best, and destructive at worst.
In this social media age, we take concepts like “willpower” and “passion” and dilute them down to their most essential meanings, leaving out complexity, reason and logic. But it’s more than just unhelpful moral statements here and there. People base their whole lives and their careers around ideas like “follow your passion” without understanding that relying on an emotion-based drive is a terrible plan (find out why I think so here).People base their whole lives and their careers around ideas like follow your passion without understanding that relying on an emotion based drive is a terrible plan. Click To Tweet
They try to change habits by amplifying their willpower, not realising that doing so often just worsens their pre-existing internal conflicts. It is clarity, principle and the willingness to grow that doesn’t just get us through life but builds meaning and effortless drive. Here, I list 5 of the most misinterpreted perceptions of life “advice” that severely hinders success while under the guise of being helpful.
Passion is such a heavily used buzzword when it comes to defining what makes for meaningful and aspirational work. When people say “pursue your passion,” what they really mean is to find something you care about enough to work on consistently. Passion is emotion-based, and therefore, unpredictable if not fleeting. If you rely on passion alone to propel you through your life’s work, you will be constantly at the whim of it. Cultivating principles means adopting behaviours that consistently work you toward your goals, whether or not you always “feel” like it.
2. Unrealistic self-sufficiency
Ok, so you want to go it all by yourself and be Clark Kent? As Michael Dell says, never be the smartest person in the room. Self-sufficiency is a virtue, but unrealistic self-sufficiency is an Achilles’ Heel. You cannot and are not meant to do or be good at everything. Truly fulfilled people don’t do everything themselves, they identify what they are fundamentally responsible for and good at, streamline, and then outsource where they lack or are not as strong. It is wise to do things like hire an accountant, or automate bills, or otherwise ease your own workload each day. It will make you more effective, productive, and likely happy. Remember, you are adequate but not enough.
3. The need to be liked by everyone
It’s true that having kindness, compassion and universal respect for other human beings is one of the noblest principles to which we can aspire. However, some people interpret “be nice to people” as a means to get everyone to like them, which is a fruitless and ultimately a self-eroding goal. One of the most significant things that hold people back in life is trying to be liked by others, mostly because they think it is what you have to do to “be a good person.” Being kind to others for the sake of it is one thing, being “nice” to everyone to be liked, admired and approved of is another. Accepting that you won’t get along with everyone – and that you are not meant to – frees you in that you don’t have to harp on trying to win over everyone you meet and know. You are better off finding a small group of people with whom you genuinely connect, and giving your energy to them. Find your tribe.
4. Waiting for your circumstances to change before you do
Most people live the majority of their lives waiting for their circumstances to change before they will change. What this means is that they wait until they’re offered a better job to start performing like a top-earning professional. They wait until they’ve found the “right” significant other to start going out and being more social. They wait until they’re out of more debt to start budgeting like someone who has their finances managed. They wait until other people approve of them [ career, appearances, spouse, Instagram, facebook, twitter] before they feel proud of themselves.
This is a way of externalising your base of control. It means that you assume your thoughts and feelings are dependent on what’s happening outside of you, rather than your perspective and interpretations. This belief paralyses people because they perpetuate the behaviours that are keeping them stuck, rather than transforming their habits and therefore changing their lives. It doesn’t matter if your stage has 3 people in the audience, perform like you are performing for millions.
5. Arriving at the next goal before you let yourself be happy
Let me brutally honest with this one. If you were not able to sit back, sip your coffee this morning and enjoy the day ahead of you, you will not be able to do so no matter how wealthy, successful, in shape, popular or admired you become. It is one of the most devastating failures that we have convinced ourselves that life begins on the other end of our achievements. It doesn’t. Happiness is not something we earn or work for, it is something we become. Life unfolds from the inside out – not the other way around. You cannot perform at your highest level if you are not happy, so before you think of conquering the world or chasing greatness ask yourself “Am I happy?”.
So the way that you see things and understand them is important to how you will navigate through life. Instead of being driven by popular culture commit to not sabotaging yourself. Share with us your story in the comments section, we would love to hear from you.