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9 Lies You Tell Yourself That Keeps You Away From Success

9 Lies You Tell Yourself That Keeps You Away From Success

“Stop lying to yourself. When we deny our own truth, we deny our own potential.”
-Steve Maraboli

We all make excuses and tell ourselves lies to avoid success. I should add, we do that to avoid the challenge, the blood, the sweat, and the tears. It is really taking the easy way out but that is denying us the chance of fame and power. The lies are barriers to achievement and fulfillment. Here are 9 lies that you probably tell yourself to avoid success.

1. I must never fail

People are afraid of failure. They are right. It ruins everything. You tell yourself that failure is not on the agenda.

The truth is that all the greatest entrepreneurs know about failure. They have all experienced it, although they may not talk much about it. But those who do all have one message. Failure was a learning experience.

Just look at J.K. Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter books. She was at one point suicidal as she feared she could not make enough money to feed her children! Yet, she persisted and now she has sold over 400 million books and is the second richest woman in the UK. Think of each setback as a building block to success.

Richard Branson has a string of failed projects to his name. Just think of Virgin Cola, Virgin Cards, Virgin Clothes, Virgin Vie and Virgin Vodka!

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“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
–Michael Jordan

2. I just need a lucky break

As you tell yourself this, you visualize success. The problem is that the chances of this lucky break happening are about the same as winning the lottery. There is another issue here. You are deceiving yourself in thinking that the winners have always had it easy and have never had to struggle. They got lucky and they never had to deal with grinding poverty, unfair competition, and backbreaking hard work.

The reality is a lot different. It takes nerve, determination, persistence, and a vision to succeed. The lucky break may come but waiting around is not going to make that happen.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”
–J.K.Rowling

3. I do not have the courage

You are basically scared and are not prepared to make that courageous leap. You lie to yourself that fear is holding you back. If you are a manager, you may be avoiding staff problems because of a lack of courage. Your business may suffer. When you are in a relationship, fear may hold you back from expressing your real feelings and emotions. You may lose your partner because of this.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”
–Eleanor Roosevelt

4. I must do everything myself

If you deceive yourself about this, you will never be able to surround yourself with top level team members who will really make a difference. If you persist in this, you are likely to end up micromanaging. You will never be able to delegate because you do not know the skill set of each of your team members. You will never win their loyalty, trust, and confidence. This does not only apply to your team but also to all your business contacts. This is one of the reasons why Richard Branson is a regular attendee at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“To be successful in business, you need to connect and collaborate and delegate.”
–Richard Branson

5. I must wait for the right moment

You think that there will be the perfect niche and you will know when to pounce on it to make it into a roaring success. You just have to wait until the time is right and you keep putting things off.

If Gutenberg had persisted in that belief we would never have had the printing press. Nobody wanted books then!

“Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.”
-Napoleon Hill

6. I am not clever enough

So you think that successful people are really intelligent? You might be shocked to know that their IQ accounts for only about 25% of their success. The other 75% is due to their ability to network, their optimism, and their emotional intelligence.

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If you are telling yourself this lie, try to assess what your networking abilities and EQ are before beating yourself up about your lack of intelligence or formal qualifications. Common sense and social interaction skills will beat an MBA any day of the week.

“Hope is a talent like any other.”
-Storm Jameson

7. I haven’t got the right personality

If you think that personality is so important, think again! Look at the greatest success stories on this planet. Bill Gates is an introvert, Barack Obama has been described as aloof while Mark Zuckerberg is shy.

There are some fascinating insights into the personalities of people who have had enormous success. Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. is well worth a read.

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, measure your self-esteem. This is what really counts.

“He is shy and introverted and he often does not seem very warm to people who don’t know him, but he is warm,”
-Sheryl Sandberg talking about Zuckerberg to The New York Times.

8. I never have enough money

You probably lie to yourself that all these successful people had loads of money to start with so they had it real easy. But throwing money at a project is not going to make it work. Instead of blaming the lack of funding, think of all the other factors that can make a project work. This may include planning, setting goals and objectives, team building, just to mention a few.

“The manager who comes up with the right solution to the wrong problem is more dangerous than the manager who comes up with the wrong solution to the right problem.”
–Peter Drucker

9. I know what works so I will continue with that

This is a fallacy because it can lead to stagnation. It is a dangerous lie too. The world is changing every minute. There are implications for your competitors and your markets. It also reduces your possibility of saving money on a more efficient solution or at looking at innovation. This is the dynamism of the business world. If you get stuck in a rut, you will never achieve success.

We have seen that success rarely falls into the lap of a person, unless they are born into a rich family. Even that is not a guarantee of achievement. The above examples show that determination, persistence, courage and vision are what really count in success. Time to stop lying to ourselves.

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
-Lao Tzu

Featured photo credit: Lies/Ged Carroll via flickr.com

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More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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