My Facebook feed is filled with articles such as:
- 10 Things Successful People do Differently
- The Morning Routine of Successful People
- 5 Things Rich People Do Differently
I’ve always been very skeptical of those articles, finding no real value in them. Now, science is coming to the rescue proving why this type of advice does NOT work.
One of the best explanations of WHY that is is a little video I found recently.
The analogy made in the video is VERY revealing.
How to Be Right 10 Weeks in a Row
- You take 50K people and tell half of them that the stock market will go up and the other half that it will go down.
- Every week only contact the people who received the right prediction. Keep doing that for ten weeks.
- Then tell the 50 remaining people that you were right about the market ten weeks in a row!
They will never see what went on.
Why Successful People Are Successful
It’s amazing to see how obsessed we are with success, yet we don’t seem too interested in failure. Tim Ferriss has a hugely popular podcast where he interviews highly successful people and finds out what are their routines and tricks.
But the more you listen to the podcast, the more you realize that each person is different and that the tips they give are often contradictory.
By listening only to the winner stories, we get a distorted view of reality.
Research has shown that when someone is successful in one field, they tend to attribute their success to internal factors, such as hard work or talent. But when someone is NOT successful, they will tend to blame their failure on bad luck.
In reality, both successful and unsuccessful people experience a mixture of luck and the result of their talent and hard work.
One example given in the video is the standard advice we hear to: “Take risks.”
Of course, if you ONLY ask people who have been successful by taking an enormous amount of risk, they will credit their risk taking to their success and will probably encourage you to take more risk.
But why do we ignore the vastly more numerous people who have FAILED miserably by taking significant risks?
Some might say that successful people only take calculated risks. But I don’t think that’s always the case.
Some successful people wake up extremely early in the morning. But many don’t! So why do we keep reading so many articles on the topic that one of the secrets to success is to “wake up early?”
In reality, there are many recipes for success, and you can’t encapsulate a “formula” in quick articles outlining the “secrets of highly successful people.”
To be fair, we have to look at both success and failure.
But we also look at ourselves.
What are our strengths and weaknesses?
In spite of what many people say, it’s much more important to focus on your strengths than try to fix your weaknesses.
If you have trouble waking up early, who cares! There are plenty of successful people who don’t wake up early. Just read the book “Daily Rituals” (a must read!) and you’ll find all the routines of creative people throughout the ages, and see how different they are from each other!
If you are a social butterfly, go with that! Use social media to promote yourself.
But if you’re more of an introvert, maybe focus more on writing instead of trying to become a YouTube celebrity.
Instead of only looking at what particular “successful” people do in the morning or whatever, create a customized plan for success based on your needs, strengths, and weaknesses.
Formulas may sound good when they come up on a Facebook feed, but they rarely work in practice.