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10 Life Lessons You Should Never Believe In

10 Life Lessons You Should Never Believe In

As you go through life you probably encounter many different life lessons.  Some are very good pieces of advice and you should follow them.  But, some life lessons turn out to be false and you should be aware of the folly of following these life lessons.  Here are 10 examples of life lessons you should never believe.

1.  You should always follow your passion.

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams calls passion “bull.”  The writer Dan Pink says the he “detests” the question “What is your passion?”  Following your passion is a common piece of career advice but not especially helpful when trying to figure out what you should pursue as a business or a career.  Instead, Dan Pink suggests focusing on what you actually do.  When you’re not at work, what do you do just for fun?  What are you good at?  What are you willing to put your effort into?  As Scott Adams points out, rather that passion causing success, “success causes passion.”

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2.  You need to do well in school to insure success.

Yes, school is important but what you soon discover after you graduate and begin looking for a job is that no one cares very much about what courses you took or what grades you received.  What counts is the skills you actually have and that you can show evidence for these skills.  Getting an “A” in a management course means less than demonstrating your management skills.  Having done well in school what you will discover is that it will often take more than that to succeed.

3.  You can’t teach an “Old Dog” new tricks.

Most people have heard that as you grow older it becomes more and more difficult to learn new things.  If you want to learn a foreign language you should start when you are young.  If you want to learn how to use new technology it helps to be young.  But, research on the brain and learning indicate that this is simply untrue.  The brain has a phenomenal ability to adapt and learn even as you grown older and the more you learn the better the brain can continue to learn and adapt.

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4.  You have to believe in yourself.

In order to achieve your goals and your dreams you have probably been told that you have to believe in yourself.  The essence of much self-help advice is that there is a power in positive thinking.  Affirmations are also based on this idea that you must visualize in a positive way the goals you wish to achieve.  But, as the author Dan Pink has pointed out, research seems to show that there is actually greater value in cultivating some self-doubt.  So, instead of confidently stating “I can” begin by asking yourself “Can I?”  This will put you in a better overall mindset for success.

5.  Life “back then” was better than it is today.

Ahh, the “good old days.”  Life was better back then.  But, nostalgia often blinds us to just what the reality was in those days gone by.  However far back you go in the past you can find indicators that things were not, in fact, as good as today.  Life expectancy is a good example.  The incidence of deaths from infections, childbirth, even the flu were much higher.  People had to spend more time acquiring food, clothing, and shelter and the rate of poverty was much higher than today.  As we look back to the past we often forget these realities which makes it seem as if life were better “back then.”

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6.  Getting ________ will make you happy.

Many people base their happiness on acquiring things.  The new house or the new car will make you happier than the one you have now.  But, once the novelty of having that new thing wears off, your happiness will return to its former level.  Or worse, you will discover that there is a newer thing to acquire and now you need to base your happiness on acquiring that thing.  In that case you have gotten on the “hedonic treadmill.”  You work harder and acquire more things but are still not any happier.

7.  You need another person to “complete” you.

We all have the image of love as somehow finding someone to complete us.  But, this presupposes that you cannot be a complete person without that other and that is not true.  It can also lead us to commit some to someone who may end up being wrong for us just to avoid being “incomplete.”  But, each one of us is a unique, complete human being on our own.  Being in love and sharing your life with someone special are wonderful gifts, but you should not view yourself or your life as incomplete if you are single.

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8.  Practice makes perfect.

For most skills improvement requires practice.  By some estimates it can take up to 10,000 hours to really master a skill such as playing a musical instrument or being a competitive athlete.  What can make this work seem so frustrating is that the “perfection” which is promised never arrives.  In fact, practice does not and cannot make you perfect at anything because perfection is an impossible to reach standard.  As the saying goes, “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”  We often use our failure to achieve perfection as a reason to stop trying at all.  Practice does lead to improvement and should be valued for that reason alone.  Set aside perfection and work on being good.

9.  Once I finish _________, I’ll have more time.

Everyone has probably said this at one time or another whether it is about something at school or work.  But, what you soon learn is that the free time you see in the future is always receding because once you finish your current project you’ll end up with another and then another.  As long as you focus on finishing things you will never end up with the free time you plan on having.  The key to breaking this cycle lies with not starting things.

10.  You can be anything you want if you work hard enough.

We are often taught some variation of this idea from an early age.  But, it ignores an important part of life: limits.  These limits are not necessarily a bad thing.  Creativity arises out of limitations as artists struggle against the constraints of their medium and skill.  Hard work can take you far but it cannot guarantee your success in everything you try.  Because of my physical limitations I will never play football in the NFL.  Because of my artistic limitations I will never play in Carnegie Hall.  Recognizing one’s limits actually liberates you from the burden of being able to do everything and focus on what you can do.  Ultimately, the fact that our life is limited is what allows us to give it meaning.  If you lived forever what would it matter what you did or when?  Likewise, if you really could be anything, what you chose to do would have less meaning.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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