Sometimes good advice goes wrong. This happens in the self-development arena, just as it does with financial advice, parenting tips, weight-loss plans, and so on. Watered-down, and unsubstantiated ideas can cause confusion, and ultimately, do more harm than good.
After ten-plus years as a Life Coach, with thousands of hours in client sessions, these are just three of the worst, albeit well-meaning recommendations, that lead to some of the greatest confusion.
1. Follow Your Passion
Yes and no. Very few people will have their career and life's work align with what they're most passionate about. It's great if it lines up this way, but most often what we really love, isn't necessarily what we're really good at it, or an activity that will provide any stability, at least not initially.
Have a big vision and exciting goals, and do something you like, but ensure that you're following your abilities, aptitudes and strengths as well.
This creates feelings of pride and success, and provides the energy required to learn more, and achieve; not to mention supplies an income, that supports you in pursuing all your passions.
Most passions, and many hobbies and creative pursuits require practice, time, and money to enjoy. Having a job or side gig, that allows you to comfortably live, will provide your interests and burgeoning skills with the platform they need to develop. This gives you the best chance of infusing energy into your day-to-day, and sometimes even turns your day-to-day work, into your passion.
2. Stop Negative Thinking. Be Positive
I'm a big fan of occasionally diving into negative thinking. Lots to learn here. Sometimes thinking of a negative consequence, like what it will feel like if you don't change, can be more motivating and effective than the positive affirmations.
Nothing can catalyze, propel, and teach like a good-ole' walk down negative Nelly lane, or a visit to worst case-scenario town, or a cruise down, what-if drive.
But that's the point, go for a walk, or visit, or drive, don't set up shop! Then, whether it's positive or not, thinking in a way that supports you in taking a step forward, and making the best decisions, moment-to-moment, is the positive choice.
3. Emulate Other Successful People
There's a common pattern that once someone makes a lot of money, achieves fame, or a great success, they develop selective amnesia. This amnesia means they attribute all of their success to following their passion, never giving up, and working hard, but their specific talents, inordinate amounts of luck, and unique opportunities are downplayed or ignored. Their story becomes the hero's journey, allowing them to reinforce their resilience and their greatness. This story is a better version - conquering and slaying and overcoming!
This hero's journey is often translated into a how-to method that is more bumper sticker ready, than real world applicable.
Are there some good ideas, tips and tricks? You bet. Psychologists have a term, survivor's bias. This means that we see the people who rose above, and made it out alive, because they're visible, in our face, and selling a 5-step method, while sailing on their yacht and meeting Richard Branson. We're blinded however, to the numerous others who didn't "get out alive."
For every Steve Jobs, there's a hundred programmers, for every Elizabeth Gilbert, there's a thousand proof readers, and for every Oprah, there's a bevy of local TV anchors. And by the way, they're not less successful - they're just less visible or rich or acclaimed.
There are a lot of factors that contribute to each person's success: individual talent, past experiences, unique opportunities, and uncanny timing cannot be forgotten in the strategies outlined by these successful people.
Take the lessons that apply to you, and that apply to the areas you have control over, such as: mastering a particular craft, developing your strengths, and learning from challenges. How famous or rich or well-received you become isn't an outcome you can control, no matter how many 5-step programs or sure-fire plans you follow. Learn to define success for yourself in multiple ways: being a good leader, increased earnings, giving back, having a close family, new opportunities, good connections, and remember that no two paths will every be the same.
The above advice, can be sourced for nuggets of truth, and a spark of motivation, but when taken out of context, and blind to each person's individual journey, these words of wisdom can be limiting, rather than useful.
Just like my opinion here, advice is something you try on, see what fits, and leave what doesn't, on the dressing room floor.
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