6 Lies About Success

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He has graced the covers of many bodybuilding and fitness magazines and won his way into our hearts through his charismatic and kick ass acting skills on the big screen ( Hercules, GI Joe, Fast & Furious, The Scorpion King etc… ).

It's all about the money. Success isn't all about the money, even though that is what some people believe success to be. It isn't about money, even though that is how the media portrays success. There are plenty of people with money that aren't successful when measured on any other scale. No one would call Mother Theresa or Gandhi failures, even though they wouldn't fare well on this scale. It's not money.

It's not about not having money. If success isn't only about money, money is a scorecard of sorts. It is a reflection of the value that you create. Money provides you with security, experiences, and choices. Money also allows you to give back at a greater level. Not having any money doesn't guarantee that you are successful, and there are plenty of people with no money who also aren't successful on any other scale. It's not about not having money.

It's about being popular. Some people with a measure of fame are perceived to be successful. And on that one measure, you might believe that they are successful. But fame is no indication of success either. Many of the people with names that are well-recognized are not successful when measured another way. It's not fame.

It's about being beautiful on the outside. There are people who are beautiful on the outside that are hideous on the inside. Time destroys physical beauty. Time destroys one's athletic prowess, too. But time can never destroy true success. It's not physical beauty.

It's about being smart. Some of the smartest people you will ever meet will also be horrible to other human beings. They might have parchment, prizes, and awards for their intellectual prowess, but none of those prove success outside of a very, very narrow measurement. It's not intellect.

It's about natural talent. Talent is no sign of success. Many of the most talented people never do anything with their talents, and many people with far less talent do more with what little they have. It's not about having talent.

When we succeed, we assume that we know what we are doing, but it could be that we just got lucky. We make what psychologists call fundamental attribution errors, giving too much credit to our talents and strategy and too little to environmental factors and random events. We develop an overconfidence bias, becoming so self-assured that we think we don't need to change anything. We also experience the failure-to-ask-why syndrome and neglect to investigate the causes of good performance.

The annals of business history are full of tales of companies that once dominated their industries but fell into decline. The usual reasons offered—staying too close to existing customers, a myopic focus on short-term financial performance, and an inability to adapt business models to disruptive innovation—don't fully explain how the leaders who had steered these firms to greatness lost their touch.

In this article we argue that success can breed failure by hindering learning at both the individual and the organizational level. We all know that learning from failure is one of the most important capacities for people and companies to develop. Yet surprisingly, learning from success can present even greater challenges. To illuminate those challenges—and identify approaches for overcoming them—we will draw from our research and from the work of other scholars in the field of behavioral decision making, and focus on three interrelated impediments to learning.



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