We all aspire to be successful in life. However, achieving success is not as straight forward as it may seem. You can have a million dollars in the bank, but if you are still not happy, you cannot be said to be truly successful. Success is not merely determined by how much money and how many material possessions you have. It is determined by something much more.
Maya Angelou says success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it. In other words, true success and happiness spring from within you, not from without. Here are 10 big misconceptions everyone thinks are true about achieving success that actually are not entirely true.
1. You need BIG dreams to be successful.
You don’t necessarily need big dreams to be successful. Anyone can have big dream of owning posh cars, mansions on the hill and even private islands. Few, however, can actually realize those dreams. What you need to succeed is clear, incredibly specific and measurable goals, says Napoleon Hill in his book “Think and Grow Rich.” Add a clear, ultra-specific, measurable course of action to reach the goals, and you are destined for great things. If you dream of being the CEO of your own company, for example, set clear, incredibly specific and measurable goals and have in place clear, ultra-specific and measurable action steps to get there, such as getting the proper education and making the right connections. Clear, S.M.A.R.T. (smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goals are what distinguish big achievers and big dreamers.
2. You must have a college education to succeed.
How many times have you heard people being warned they will wind up on the streets homeless and begging for money if they don’t get a college education? You were probably warned the same thing yourself when growing up. While the importance of getting an education is undisputable, you don’t necessarily have to have a college education to succeed in life. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg attended the best schools in the country but none of them graduated with a college degree. They dropped out of college to pursue their dreams and still ended up successful. Don’t be fixated on the idea that everyone needs a degree to succeed in life. Oftentimes, being street smart, analytical and willing to follow your intuition is the secret recipe that you will propel you to excellence in this world.
3. You just need to go through the motions and everything will fall into place.
One of the absolute truths about life is that what you put in determines what you get out. Everything happens for a reason. Growth and development happen because time and effort was put in. Mediocre input only produces mediocre output. If you don’t work hard and put in full effort, you undermine your own success. It’s as simple as that. Success won’t just happen. You must work hard, be calculated, smart and committed to achieve it. Things are made to fall into place; they don’t just fall into place. Put in lackluster effort only if you are not serious about achieving success.
4. Your passion is all that is needed.
Passion is vital for success. It means you want something bad enough that you are willing to commit to make it a reality. However, passion alone is not enough to achieve success. Success takes time. You will need not just a strong desire and commitment to make something happen, but also more importantly, patience and effort. If you are truly passionate about something, time and effort will be your most valuable asset. Set goals you are passionate about because you’ll likely be working on them for some time.
5. You need to be really talented.
No. You don’t need to be really talented to succeed. Success and talent don’t always go hand-in-hand. If you don’t believe me, just look at the Miley Cyruses and Danielle Steeles of this world. Danielle Steele is super rich and celebrated around the world and yet, she is not exactly Jane Austen. Just because you are not exceptionally talented at something is not a reason to put yourself down. Grit is more important than talent. Talent makes it easier to achieve success, but effort and perseverance make success a predetermined reality. Work on S.M.A.R.T. goals and success will follow.
6. You can do it all by yourself.
Whether you like it or not, there is always something you can learn and benefit from other people. Nobody knows everything or has absolutely everything required for success. We can all do with occasional help and support from others. The most successful people understand this fact and cherish every opportunity to pick the brains of those more knowledgeable, talented or experienced than them. They even cherish the opportunity to interact with people less endowed than them. This habit births new perspectives and insights that bring them even more success. Get over being shy and get help or support from others whenever you need it. This will make you a more refined, successful person.
7. You can’t afford to slip up or make mistakes.
If you think there is no room for mistakes in the pursuit of success and happiness, then you are mistaken already. Slip ups and mistakes are inevitable. They happen all the time to people. You won’t always get it right the first time, but you can always make mistakes a secret ingredient for your own success. Winston Churchill rightly said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” Pick yourself up and brush the dust off your clothes after you slip and fall. Learn from your mistakes and use that experience as a lesson to avoid future mistakes. That is the hallmark of someone destined for great things.
8. You must keep at it non-stop.
Persistence is pivotal to achieving success. However, persistence is not the same thing as stubbornness and inflexibility. You are only human and there is only so much you can do before you burn out. Your body and mind needs downtime to rest and re-energize. The most successful people sleep well and take regular breaks from work to rest and relax. They don’t work non-stop and you shouldn’t either. Slow down; take a look around; breathe. Delegate the kids or work and escape on a deserved break. Eat healthy, exercise regularly and enjoy quality time with friends and family outside of work. These things will refresh and re-energize you for success when you get back to work.
9. You can slack off once you reach the top.
The higher you climb the ladder of success, the harder you can fall. Anyone who tells you that you can slack off once you are successful should not be taken seriously. There is no room for slacking off, especially at the highest levels of success in business. Biblical teachings even admonish that to whom much is given, much is expected. Much will be expected from you at the top. You can (and should) take deserved breaks, but you must not slack off if you want to remain at the top. Keep working hard.
10. You will be happy once you are successful.
Achieving all your goals and dreams will not guarantee you will be happy. Some of the most unhappy, suicidal people in the world are the rich and famous. Many more accomplished people suffer the “more syndrome” where the more they get, the more they want. The “more syndrome” only leaves people stressed out and unhappy. However, people who lead the most meaningful, happy and successful lives get a lot of joy not from the ability to accumulate even more, but the ability to give out more. So, be generous once you get to the top and are successful.