There is a common myth that many people have about those who are successful. It gets passed around in conversations. It might be used as a dig or jab. In some ways, the myth is used to justify a person’s own lack of success. What is the myth?
Success comes easily for successful people.
“They [Bill Gates, Lebron James, Adele] didn’t have to face the same challenges I did.”
“They [Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Ed Sheeran] didn’t grow up in my family.”
“They [J.K, Rowlings, Patrick Mahomes, Rihanna] had everything handed to them.”
According to the myth, successful people never had to overcome hardships, face down any challenges, or start over due to failures.
At this point, it might be helpful to return to a distinction I made at the beginning of this series. Here is what I wrote in the first article:
“Not all of them were ‘successful’ by conventional standards, if you’re simply talking about net worth or square footage. But if you define success as making a positive, lasting difference with the one life you’ve been given – each of these folks would unquestionably be successful.”
Are their wealthy people who had a head start? Who had a relatively easy childhood? Yes — and I know many not-so-wealthy people who came from good families, too, who aren’t living life to their fullest potential.
Being successful isn’t about becoming wealthy. While that may happen, the real success lies in knowing you’ve made a difference with your life. This might express itself through teaching, writing, acting, athletics, research, science, medicine, parenting, coaching, managing, or just being a good friend.
People who hold to the success myth run the risk of developing what is the arch enemy of success: a victim’s mentality.
As long as you see yourself as a victim, you are abdicating the power of responsibility. Instead of being responsible for your next step, that power is held by whatever you’ve allowed to define you.
Growth doesn’t happen because of the absence of obstacles. It happens in the midst of obstacles – and on the other side of them.
The successful people I’ve been privileged to know have all overcome tremendous odds and setbacks. I know highly successful people who failed in previous business attempts. I know wonderful teachers and educators who didn’t graduate with honors – or from an Ivy League school. Many of the best parents I’ve seen in action came from very dysfunctional families.
None of them became impactful by chance or accident.
Professional athletes still take batting practice. Singers have vocal coaches. Engaging teachers continue to read and learn. Top leaders work constantly on their leadership.
When you’re tempted to feel like a victim, hit the pause button and refuse to go down that rabbit hole.
See challenges as opportunities. Learn from your mistakes and move forward.
You only have one life and this is it.
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Experience and Background
- 25+ years of senior leadership experience
- masters in management and leadership
- presenter at the WFX National Conference
- former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
- helped start 2 for-profit tech companies
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