There are a lot of "truths" related to business success including: If you don't take care of your customers someone else will. Business is not about selling, it's about relationships. Correlations are not always causations. And last but maybe truest, all of us are smarter than any of us.
Each of these is a foundational axiom for advancement in both life and commerce, but there are also lies that people believe that hold them back and limit their abilities. Here are three common lies that unsuccessful people believe.
1. "I have a college degree, so I deserve a job."
As obvious as it seems, having any kind of degree is not a guarantee of a job and that includes a Masters degree or Ph.D. As harsh as it sounds in this hyper-politically correct environment, nobody deserves employment.
In our capitalist system, the reason why you don't have a job is that you're not adding value to the marketplace. The best way to add value is to solve problems, and your compensation will be proportional to how difficult, large or specialized a given problem set might be.
Instead of whining about not finding a job, start finding a problem to solve instead.
2. "We just need to go viral."
I've found this particular fallacy is particularly popular among younger demographic segments including Generation Y and Millennials.
Anecdotally, my two teenage daughters consume a variety of media such as online videos, music, gifs, games...etc. In their consumption, they also manipulate and change those media offerings and share them across their social networks.
They might find a picture online of a kitten, add a Snapchat filter and share, or they may record a subjectively "hilarious" video snippet and share. I've overheard them say, "This one will go viral for sure and we'll make millions."
While viral unicorns, such as PSY's Gangnam Style or the Dollar Shave Club videos, do occur not everything goes viral and viral hits don't necessarily translate into positive fame or financial return. Just ask "pharma bro" Martin Shkreli who had many viral moments during the past several years.
Bottom line, viral does not equal success.
3. "I need to look like a success to be a success."
This falsehood manifests as individuals living above their means and it's the underlying premise of Thomas Stanley's classic book, The Millionaire Next Door. It's especially apparent in "image" professions such as lawyers, physicians, architects, stockbrokers, etc.
The focus of Stanley's book is that the majority of millionaires in America are actually individuals, such as plumbers, dry cleaners and automotive repair shops to name just a few, who scrimped and saved while starting and growing a blue-collar business from the ground up. Like all parents, those millionaires instinctively wanted their kids to be more successful and not work as hard as they did, so the children were and are encouraged to pursue professional careers in high-potential fields such as medicine, finance or the law.
Turns out, when half those kids finish graduate school they have more than $120,000 in debt before they even land a job. Stanley asserts that those would-be professionals also feel compelled to live in the right neighborhoods, drive the right cars, wear the right clothes and join the right country club based on their profession. Such high living comes with a high price tag.
What happens is the blue-collar millionaire parents have to subsidize the lifestyle of their white-collar children. Most of the wealth the blue-collar parents took decades to save is spent before their grand kids get any type of inheritance. Too few parents realize that they're hobbling, rather than helping, their offspring by enabling conspicuous consumption insteady of their own frugality.
While avoiding these lies may be obvious to some of us, many of us still have difficulty sifting fact from fiction.