Six Lies Standing Between You and Success and How to Beat Them
Over time, myths and mistruths get thrown around so often that they eventually feel familiar and start to sound like the truth. Then we start basing important decisions on them. The challenge we all face when forming our success strategies is that success has its own lies, too. If we’re going to maximize our potential, we’re going to have to make sure we put these lies to bed.
Lie No. 1: Everything Matters Equally
Equality is a worthy ideal pursued in the name of justice and rights. In the real world of results, however, things are never equal. No matter how talented people are — no two are ever equal. Equality is a lie. Not everything matters equally, and success isn’t a game won by whoever does the most. Yet that is exactly how most play it on a daily basis.
Although to-do lists serve as a useful collection of our best intentions, they also tyrannize us with trivial, unimportant stuff that we feel obligated to get done — because it’s on our list. Achievers operate differently. Achievers always work from a clear sense of priority. Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list –– a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results. If your to-do list contains everything, then it’s probably taking you everywhere except where you want to go.
Lie No. 2: Multitasking
Multitasking is a lie because nearly everyone accepts it as an effective thing to do, but when you try to do two things at once, you either can’t or won’t do either well. Multitasking is an effective way to get less done.
The term “multitasking” emerged in the 1960s to describe a computer’s ability to quickly perform many tasks. However, the term is inherently deceptive. Multitasking is about multiple tasks alternately sharing one resource (the CPU), but over time, the context was flipped, and it became interpreted to mean multiple tasks being done simultaneously by one resource (a person).
People can do two or more things at once, such as walk and talk, but we can’t focus on two things at once. Our attention bounces back and forth. This is fine for computers, but it has serious repercussions in humans. When you switch from one task to another, two things happen. The first is nearly instantaneous: you decide to switch. The second is less predictable: you have to activate the “rules” for whatever you’re about to do. It always takes some time to start a new task and restart the one you quit, and there’s no guarantee you’ll pick up where you left off.
So why would we ever tolerate multitasking when we’re doing our most important work? Just because our day job doesn’t involve bypass surgery doesn’t make focus any less critical to our success. Your work deserves no less respect.
Lie No. 3: A Disciplined Life
Contrary to what most people believe, success is not a marathon of disciplined action. Achievement doesn’t require you to be a full-time disciplined person where your every action is trained and where control is the solution to every situation. Success is actually a short race — a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over.
You can become successful with less discipline than you think, for one simple reason: success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right. The trick to success is to choose the right habit and bring just enough discipline to establish it. That’s it. As this habit becomes part of your life, you’ll start looking like a disciplined person, but you won’t be one. You’ll be a person who used selective discipline to build a powerful habit.
The right discipline goes a long way, and habits are hard only in the beginning. Over time, the habit you’re after becomes easier to sustain. Habits require much less energy and effort to maintain than to begin. In 2009, researchers at the University College of London asked the question, “How long does it take to establish a new habit?” The results suggest that it takes an average of 66 days; the full range was 18 to 254 days, but 66 represented a sweet spot — with easier behaviors taking fewer days and tough ones taking longer. Super-successful people aren’t superhuman; they’ve just used selective discipline to develop a few significant habits –– one at a time, over time.
Lie No. 4: Willpower Is Always on Will-Call
Most people assume willpower matters, but many might not fully appreciate how critical it is to success. Willpower is so important that using it effectively should be a high priority. Unfortunately, because it’s not always on will-call, putting it to its best use requires you to manage it. Willpower is a timing issue; when you have your will, you get your way.
Willpower has a limited battery life but can be recharged with some downtime. You must monitor your willpower fuel gauge. Full-strength willpower requires a full tank. Never let what matters most be compromised due to under-fueling. Eat right and regularly and get plenty of rest.
How do you put your willpower to work? You think about it. Pay attention to it. Respect it. You do what matters most first each day when your willpower is strongest. Maximum strength means maximum success.
Lie No. 5: A Balanced Life
The idea of balance is exactly that — a grand yet not very practical idea. In your effort to attend to all things, everything gets shortchanged, and nothing gets its due. When we say we’re out of balance, we’re usually referring to a sense that some priorities –– things that matter to us –– are being underserved or unmet. The problem is that when you focus on what is truly important, something will always be underserved. There will always be things left undone. Leaving some things undone is a necessary tradeoff for results. But you can’t leave everything undone, and that’s where counterbalancing comes in. You must counterbalance your work and personal life buckets.
1. Counterbalance your work bucket. View work as involving a skill or knowledge that must be mastered. This will cause you to give disproportionate time to your most important thing and will throw the rest of your work- day, week, month and year out of balance. Your work life is divided into two areas: what matters most and everything else. You will have to take what matters to the extremes and be OK with what happens to the rest. Professional success requires it.
2. Counterbalance your personal life bucket. Acknowledge that your life has multiple areas and that each requires a minimum of attention for you to feel that you “have a life.” Drop any one, and you’ll feel the effects. This requires constant awareness. You must never go too long or too far without counterbalancing them so that they are all active areas of your life. Your personal life requires it.
The question of balance is really a question of priority. When you change your language from balancing to prioritizing, you see your choices more clearly. When you’re supposed to be working, work, and when you’re supposed to be playing, play. It’s a weird tightrope you’re walking, but it’s only when you get your priorities mixed up that things fall apart.
Lie No. 6: Big Is Bad
This is possibly the worst lie of all, for if you fear big success, you’ll either avoid it or sabotage your efforts to achieve it. No one knows their ultimate ceiling for achievement, so worrying about it is a waste of time. When you allow yourself to accept that big is about who you can become, you look at it differently.
Thinking big is essential to extraordinary results. Success requires action, and action requires thought. But here’s the catch –– the only actions that become spring-boards to succeeding big are those informed by big thinking to begin with. Make this connection, and the importance of how big you think begins to sink in.
Everyone has the same amount of time, and hard work is simply hard work. As a result, what you do in the time you work determines what you achieve. And because what you do is determined by what you think, how big you think becomes the launching pad for how high you achieve. Don’t fear big. Fear mediocrity. Only living big will let you experience your true life and work potential.
As satisfying as succeeding is, as fulfilling as journeying feels, there is actually an even better reason to get up every day and take action: No regrets. Life is too short to pile up woulda, coulda, shouldas. Success is an inside job. When you put yourself together, the world falls into place. You know what to do. You know how to do it. Your next step is simple. You are the first domino.