How do you feel about the phrase, “the secrets of success”?

What would happen if success were no longer a secret?

Let’s get rid of the secrets by busting some of the myths about success. Because success isn’t a location. Or something hidden. Especially when it comes to your career. But in order to find what success really means in this new context, we’ve got to shatter a few myths. 

What’s your biggest misconception or myth about success?

I posed this question to friends and colleagues.  Here’s what they told me:

For me, success always looked like something external. Something “out there”, reserved for someone else. Maybe it was money, or job title, or perhaps what looked like the “perfect life” (whatever that is, I’m still not sure). But it was always something just out of reach, and always on a timeline. Or a deadline. Or both.

Our expected timeline for success is almost always wrong. 

We think success is linear, following a pattern, the result of hard work. And success is scheduled to show up on Thursday at 4:00pm. Then life happens. Your appointment with success gets moved up, or moved out, or moved onto someone else’s calendar. 

Success doesn’t always come in a sequence. 

When we let go of our preconceptions about what success looks like, that’s when we see it. When success is free to show up in whatever order and at whatever time – even unannounced – that’s when it is most welcome.

Two words successful people purge.

Have you ever said or heard these phrases before? 

  • We should be back to work by now.
  • I should be married by now.
  • Other people have been promoted to Vice President – why hasn’t that happened to me by now?
  • I should be living in Manhattan Beach / driving a fancy car / owning my own business by now.

Does any of that sound familiar? 

Does any of that sound successful? 

No. Not really. Labeling your life with a “by now” tag is a recipe for suffering, not success.

Comments about what should have happened by now shows that we don’t know how long it takes to succeed. We don’t know when success will arrive – only when we think it should

We should be able to go back to the way things were. Seniors should be allowed to go to the prom. By now. What we should be able to do, by now, is a source of either pressure or discouragement. Either option is a choice to make ourselves feel bad, no matter how you slice it. Does it help your performance when you put more pressure on yourself?

How’s that pressure and discouragement helping you to succeed? Take two words away from your definition of success and it gets more realistic. More real. More right now. 

Subtract “by now,” and you’re on to something.

How are you redefining success? Share your ideas and questions here and at @karenmangia or