Seven Brutal Lies That Kill Your Success, and How to Stop Believing Them

I have some good news and some bad news.

  • Good news: Most people could achieve success if they’d only let go of the false beliefs that hold them back.
  • Bad news: Most people won’t do it.

With that in mind, here are 7 simple, terrible, brutal, self-defeating lies that people tell themselves to torpedo their own success–along with how to stop believing them.

Please pay special attention to number 4 and number 7.

1. Everyone will laugh at me.

Let’s start with a huge, ironic, life-affirming secret that many people never learn, or learn only when it’s almost too late.

Nobody cares. Nobody will remember.

Oh how refreshing it is when you realize that almost nobody cares if you fail! Of the very tiny minority who even notice, an even tinier sliver will remember.

Here’s what to say to people who belittle your effort: “Meh.”

Even better: nothing.

They don’t matter in the least. And if you do fail, just start something else before anyone has time to notice.

2. It won’t be good enough.

Good enough for what? Someone else’s standards? Good enough to make a lot of money? Good enough to become your life’s work?

None of those things matter, really. Almost anything you start in life, one of two things will happen:
  • Either you’ll succeed, or
  • You’ll have an opportunity to learn something that helps you succeed in something later.

Either one is a win. Either one is good enough.

3. It’s too late/I’m too old.

A friend told me about when she decided to go back to school to get her degree and try another career. She got cold feet when she realized that by the time she graduated and went through her internships and got scheduled, she’d be almost 50 years old.

Someone asked her: How old will you be then if you don’t go to back to school?

Let me put it differently, from someone who has had his 50th birthday: As you get older, all of the ages you’ve already passed start to feel pretty young.

There’s almost no such thing as too old to pursue your dreams.

4. I’m too good for this.

Flag this one, because now, we get into the real sauce: the lies that people tell themselves, and that they don’t really want to admit that they believe.

They think they’re too good to ask 100 people for help and to hear 99 rejections.

(But deep down inside, it’s not the rejection; it’s that they think they’re above being told, “no.”)

Maybe they’re not willing to do the dirty work. Maybe they think it’s beneath them to have to go out and cold call and get the first 10 customers.

Maybe they’ll have to carry heavy things, or clean up messes, or deal with customer complaints, or spend endless hours filling out administrative forms.

Often, my guess is that their parents told them relentlessly that they were smart, and that they deserve go to a good college, and that if they put in just a bit of effort, they should be somebody’s boss. But maybe it’s something else.

The biggest lie here isn’t just that the idea that some people think they’re too good for the things they’d have to do to achieve success.

It’s that deep down inside, they’d have to admit that they aren’t good enough.

5. I can’t afford it.

Some people say they can’t pursue their dreams because they can’t afford to do so. That’s true in some cases — but only for a very small minority of people.

For most others, it’s more that they aren’t willing to cut back on other things in order to finance their dreams.

Again, I’m not saying that nobody is truly in a tough enough bind that they have few ways to work out of it while accommodating their aspirations to greatness. But the group of people for whom that’s the truth is a lot smaller than the group that chooses to use this fallacy as an excuse.

Maybe you can’t afford the time or money it would require to chase every dream. But you can chase after the ones that truly grip you the strongest.

The lie isn’t about not being able to afford the effort; it’s about being afraid that you’ll spend the time or money and come up short.

6. Somebody else probably already thought of it.

Yes indeed,, somebody else did probably already think of whatever you’ve imagined.

And you know what? They almost certainly allowed all the other lies on this list to derail them from their dreams.

Viewed that way, the existence of these lies is actually a benefit, isn’t it?

Most people self-select out. Don’t be like most people.

7. I already tried that.

There are exceptions to every rule, but most of the time “I already tried that” is a signal that someone isn’t actually looking for a solution. Instead, they’re looking for excuses not to follow the hard paths that might lead to a solution.

“I already tried that” is a no. You’re looking for a yes.

  • What can I do to improve the last way I tried this?
  • Can you help me figure out why the thing I tried didn’t work?
  • Doing X didn’t work, but I learned Y, which makes me think maybe I should try Z.

Don’t fall in love with the lies. Go out and find the truths instead.

Look, I know that some of this can seem over-simplified. But that’s because things that are simple are often not easy, and yet people confuse the two concepts.

And I share these difficult lessons from a place of humility, because I realize that even as I was privileged to have some of the best teachers in the world as part of my job, it still took me more than a decade to accept and understand what they had to say

That’s OK, though. As I write in my free ebook, 12 Simple Habits That Will Probably Make Your Life a Little Better, the true measure isn’t how many lies you’ve told yourself.

Instead, it’s about what you do next, after you’ve learned to reject them.

You can choose to believe or choose not to. But, now you can’t say you were never told.