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10 Popular Beliefs that Can Derail Your Success

Risk Taking

Risk Taking (photo courtesy of Flickr user Renellek. Author of Quote: Sardek Love)

During our childhood, our parents tell us things we should always do to achieve success. As we grow older, mentors, teachers, and authors of books on career success also share similar words of wisdom. What they don’t tell you is that many of those sayings can also serve as a barrier to your success if you’re not careful. Here are 10 popular sayings that can actually derail your success:

1. Take Risks and Never Let the Fear of Failure Stop You from Trying

It is true that persistence and the ability to overcome obstacles are absolutely required to achieve and sustain success. However, there comes a time where continued persistence and repeated failures would warrant a change in approach. Successful people always know when a change in approach is necessary to ensure they don’t reach a point at which futility turns into stupidity.

2. Never Judge

The truth is, to judge and to be judged is uniquely human. In fact, you can’t turn it off as research has shown impressions of others are formed in as little as 8 seconds. Successful people recognize their natural desire to judge others and manage it so that it doesn’t create a barrier to success while also allowing it to serve as a deterrent to bad decision making.

3. Always Play Nice

We’re taught that you must be respectful, and should avoid criticizing others. This works in a utopian society, of which has never existed. The fact of the matter is you will encounter jerks, narcissists, and other innately selfish people. Successful people have a strategy for dealing with them and you should too otherwise your success will always be limited.

4. Assume Everyone Will Appreciate You Doing The Right Thing

Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do. It’s important to recognize and accept that doing the right thing means you may be openly and sometimes very actively attacked in a variety of ways. Successful people know and plan for this reality, and still do the right thing anyway.

5. Those You Help Will Always Return the Favor

I, like many people, had to learn this lesson the hard way. There have been countless times I’ve assisted others only to realize they were only interested in getting what they wanted. So to stop the disappointments, successful people simply adopt the strategy of helping others without expecting anything in return. As they found out, investing in others is more rewarding than the possible returns that may or may not materialize.

6. Never Use Aggressive Tactics to Get What You Want

Life is a series of short soap operas that have no ending, and each episode is filled with characters endlessly pursuing their respective dreams and aspirations. There are times you have to use aggressive tactics to get what you want. Successful people recognize the situations that require them to be aggressive, which is why their path to success is not filled with high amounts of disappointment, frustration, and failure.

7. Always Speak What’s On Your Mind

This classic statement is a very popular belief among the Millennial generation (18 – 33 year olds). And no one can argue the value of having the confidence to openly express your thoughts and views. Too much of any good thing quickly becomes a weakness. Knowing when to curb your enthusiasm is a critical skill for career success, and successful people know when to simply shut up and keep their thoughts to themselves rather than risk damaging their reputation / personal brand.

8. Always Be Honest

Honesty, integrity, trust, and character form the foundation of success. There are times, however, that being honest would not be appropriate – such as when someone’s life or safety is in jeopardy by disclosing the truth. There are also times in a manager’s career when information cannot be disclosed. Successful people avoid lying at all costs, and they develop strategies for not disclosing the truth when situations dictate such a need.

9. Never Play Favorites

Parents and bosses never admit it, but let’s keep it real – everyone has their favorites. Now that we got that out of the way, the reality is our favorites achieve that status because they become trustworthy and supportive of our needs. Right or wrong, not playing favorites is about as realistic as not judging people, and successful people accept this reality.

10. Trust Your Instincts

Many successful people will cite trusting their “gut” as a critical component of their decision-making. What they don’t say is this “gut” feeling is based on extensive knowledge and experience. So it’s not exactly a serious wild @!#% guess (SWAG). Those who trust their instincts without having the right types of information to guide their decision making increase the odds of failing. Successful people know this, so while they may appear to be SWAGging, they’re  really making very informed decisions and screening them with their SUCCESS team.

Many thanks to my family members (Thida, Latoshia, and Dominique) for their contributions to this blog article. Your willingness to allow me to pick your brain over breakfast was very sincerely appreciated!

For more tips and strategies on thinking your way to success, visit my website at, subscribe to this blog, and follow me on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook). By doing so, you will gain access to leading edge research on management and leadership development and have access to daily inspirational and motivational quotes that will drive your success trajectory upward. So don’t delay, follow me and think yourself to success today!


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