We Don’t Succeed Because We Believe in Lies

How are lies ingrained as Truths

In 2003, Merriam-Webster began analyzing searches on their online dictionary to determine the “Word of the Year”. The idea was that since online searches for words reveal whatever is on our collective minds, then the most searched-for word should capture the spirit of the times. The debut winner delivered. On the heels of the invasion of Iraq, it seems everyone wanted to know what “democracy” really meant. The next year, “blog”, a little make-up word that described a new way to communicate, topped the list. After all the political scandals of 2005, “integrity” earned top honors.

Then, in 2006, Merriam-Webster added a twist. Since visitors could nominate candidates and subsequently vote on the “Word of the Year”. You could say it was an effort to instill a quantitative exercise with qualitative feedback, or you could just call it good marketing. The winner, by a five-to-one landslide, was “truthiness,” a word comedian Stephen Colbert coined as “truth that comes from the gut, not books” on the debut episode of his Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report.  In an Information Age driven by round-the-clock news, ranting talk radio, and editorless blogging, truthiness captures all the incidental, accidental, and even intentional falsehoods that sound just “truthy” enough for us to accept as true.

The problem is we tend to act on what we believe even when what we believe isn’t anything we should. As a result, buying into The One Thing becomes difficult because we’ve unfortunately bought into too many others – and more often than not those “other things” muddle our thinking, misguide our actions, and sidetrack our success.

Life is too short to chase unicorns. It’s too precious to rely on a rabbits’ foot. The real solutions we seek are almost always hiding in plain sight; unfortunately, they’ve usually been obscured by an unbeliveable amount of bunk, an astounding flood of “common sense” that turns out to be nonsense. Ever hear your boss evoke the frog-in-boiling-water metaphor? (“Toss a frog into a pot of hot water and it will jump right back out. But if you place frog in lukewarm water and slowly rise the temperature, it will boil to death.”) It’s a lie – a very truthy lie, but a lie nonetheless. Anyone ever tell you “fish stink from the head down?” Not true. Just a fish tale that actually turns out to be fishy. Ever hear about how the explorer Cortez burned his ships on arrive at the Americas to motivate his men? Not true. Another lie. “Bet on the jockey, not the horse!” has long been a rallying cry for placing your faith in a company’s leadership. However, as a betting strategy, this maxim will put on the fast track to the pauper’s house, which makes you wonder how it ever became a maxim at all. Over time, myths, and mistruths get thrown around so often 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, just like tales of frogs, fish, explorers, and jockeys, success has its own lies too. “I just have too much that has to be done.” “I’ll get more done by doing things at the same time. ” “I need to be a more disciplined person.” ” I should be able to do what I want whenever I want”. “I need more balance in my life.” “Maybe I shouldn’t dream so big.” Repeat these thoughts often enough and they become the six lies about success that keep us from living the One Thing.

The Six Lies Between You and Success

  1. Everything Matters Equally
  2. Multitasking
  3. A Disciplined Life
  4. Willpower is always on Will-Call
  5. A Balanced Life
  6. Big is Bad

The six lies are beliefs that get into our heads and become operational principles driving us the wrong way. Highways that end as bunny trails. Fool’s gold that diverts us from the mother lode. If we’re going to maximize our potential, we’re going to have to make sure we put these lies in bed.