Most myths are based on reality. They cloud your perception. Moreover, myths get in the way of your success. Without us noticing it, we act as if the myth is real. They become our ideas. So, it is vital that you do not let a myth define your reality, as they will hold you back and limit your potential.
“What we think we become.” — Buddha
Leaders Are Born, Not Made
Excellent leaders are women and men who hold themselves to remarkably exacting standards for professional achievement and personal character. However, often they hold others to the same exceedingly lofty standards. The CEO Next Door debunks a host of popular myths about CEOs. The authors eradicate myths with facts from their database of interviews with executives. The myths include,
- CEOs come from Ivy league universities while the truth, based on research, is only 7 percent of CEOs graduated from an Ivy league university. Interestingly, 8 percent of CEOs do not have a college education
- People are destined to be a CEO from an early age while the truth is over 70 percent of the CEOs did not set out to achieve the role
- One needs a larger than life personality with enormous charisma and confidence to be a CEO. However, the fact is a third of the CEOs describe themselves as introverted
- A CEO needs a flawless resume while the truth is that 45 percent of CEOs had at least one major blow up or a major mishap in their career
The fact is that successful CEOs stood out for decisiveness — the ability to make decisions with speed and conviction. Moreover, they make decisions with only 80 percent of the information available to them. Furthermore, they reach out to other perspectives because they realize that all input is not created equal.
“Every time you make the hard, correct decision, you become a bit more courageous, and every time you make the easy, wrong decision, you become a bit more cowardly. If you are CEO, these choices will lead to a courageous or cowardly company.” — Ben Horowitz, CEO of Opsware
Introvert or Extrovert
“We contain multitudes.” — Walt Whitman
In the 1920s, Carl Jung coined the terms extrovert and introvert. Since then, these descriptors have taken on a life of their own. Many people generalize:
- Introverts do not like people and lack opinions
- Extroverts are shallow and awful listeners
However, society favours extroverts. Today, we are all expected to share our feelings and activities constantly on social media. So, it has become difficult for an introvert in an extrovert world. For example, admission recruiters at most colleges favour students who show charisma, are outspoken and look confident. Extroverts hold these traits.
“Society favours a man of actions versus a man of contemplation.” — Susan Cain
Also, research suggests that extroverts are 25 percent more likely to land a top job. Our performance traits clearly show that introverts also can be exceptional leaders. However, employers prefer expressive people.
Interestingly, Jung saw introversion and extroversion as-as black and white traits. However, most of us are a shade of grey — having both characteristics. Adam Grant at Wharton coined a third group — ambiverts. Grant states that somewhere between half and two-thirds of the population are ambiverts. Our performance traits supply insights into the degree of introversion and extroversion. We rarely see pure introverts and extraverts. Some do exist; however, they are exceptions.
So, you are likely an ambivert and have the best of both worlds. Grant calls this the ‘ambivert advantage. An ambivert can be twice as productive as an introvert or an extrovert. They both listen and assert themselves. Ambiverts excel in many careers. It comes down to having the superpowers needed for the specific role. So, free yourself from the extrovert or introvert myth and focus on developing your talent stack.
Research shows that an ambivert salesperson generates more revenue than their extroverts or introvert counterparts.
Research shows that believing you are a certain way creates a deceiving “self-as-story.” By labelling yourself as an introvert or an extrovert, you limit your development.
Jung characterized introverts as getting their energy from within and extroverts being fired up by people and external stimuli. However, it is the presence of focus that moves you forward.
“All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.” – Alexandre Dumas
Your Brain is Hardwired
In the 1960s, Paul MacLean developed the ‘Triune Brain’ theory. MacLean segmented the brain into three parts,
- the reptilian brain controls our instincts
- the limbic system manages our emotions
- neocortex controls rational thought
So, if you tend to overreact, procrastinate, or your emotions usually take over, the experts would blame your reactions on your ancient, reptilian brain.
So, for about 50 years, people were able to use their lizard brain as a convenient scapegoat. Thus, the reptile brain metaphor grew. It gave us an effortless way out. Some people could deflect responsibility from themselves. Seth Godin calls the lizard brain “the source of all resistance.”
However, neuroscientists no longer take so-called lizard brain seriously. It is a myth. You are in charge — you do not have a lizard brain.
Today, neuroscientists characterize our brain as a dynamic network of multi-directional connections. Most parts of the brain have interconnections. Our emotions and rational thoughts are not separated. Moreover, they feed off each other.
“We carry the history of a long, successful lineage in our genetic and biological makeup. The question of what to do with those resources, though, is not predetermined by the past. It’s up to you.” — Ben Thomas
The Architect of Your Experience
Our rational thoughts are not superior to instincts and emotions. Effective decision-making requires integrating them all.
“You are an architect of your experience. You are indeed partly responsible for your actions, even so-called emotional reactions that you experience as out of your control.” — Lisa Feldman Barrett
Forget Right-Brain and Left-Brain
Our brain is fantastic. We can train and develop it. It is not something fixed.
The idea of left-brained and right-brained people is a myth too. Research using brain imaging technology shows that there is no dominance of one half of the brain over the other half.
We all have different personalities and performance traits. However, you are in charge. You can develop your whole brain. Not just the half that is your dominant one.
Change Is Difficult
The myth that change is difficult creates extra drama and uncertainty. Change is a natural state of being. Our bodies and minds are adaptive by design. When we stop resisting change, life feels less stressful and uncomfortable.
A NASA study found that 98 percent of children under four years old are creative geniuses. However, only two percent of adults keep this lofty title. So, what happened? The more we protect the status quo, the quicker we erode our status as a creative genius. Never stop learning — it is good for your brain health.
Train your mind to become increasingly more open and adaptive. Adopt a growth mindset. Regular practice strengthens the connections in your brain. New habits require repetition and time to form.
“Neurons that fire together wire together.” — Donald Hebb
Resistance is not our natural state. It is a signal. Change makes you feel off-centre. Your first response is to keep the status quo. So, pay attention. What is the message trying to tell you?
You are fluid, not fixed. Moreover, you are more adaptive and resilient than you think. So, focus on what you can achieve because of change, instead of on what the change may do to you.
- Resisting change is a signal — a window of opportunity has opened in front of you. Do not let your fears get in the way of success.
- Do not fight reality — change is rarely quick or linear. Become flexible in your thoughts and approach. Reframe your emotions.
Moreover, change is something that you are part of — lead change in your life. So, do not let things happen to you.
Perfectionism Produces Great Work
“The computer brings out the uptight perfectionist in us — we start editing ideas before we have them.” — Austin Kleon
Perfectionists have a high standard. Often nothing is ever up to their standards. So, the myth of perfectionism is believing that a high bar means better outcomes. However, perfectionism may harm your work. You may beat yourself up for a mistake or unmet expectations. This creates added disappointment.
Many perfectionists have perfected procrastinating, as nothing is ever perfect enough. So, they do not act. Indecision and perfectionism often go hand in hand. Move to a mindset that “good enough is good enough” from your current view that “only the best will do.”
“In the current world, where choice is virtually unlimited, seeking the best is a recipe for misery.” — Barry Schwartz
Instead, over-thinkers to aim for good enough, whether they are choosing which job to accept or which cereal to consume. Perfectionism is approaching an epidemic. Today, many people suffer from severe depression or anxiety disorders. Perfectionism can be a significant weakness.
Successful perfectionists are the exception to the rule. Successful perfectionists are successful despite it, not because of it.
Perfectionism is an impossible goal. Stop chasing a moving target. Action drives improvement. Do not wait for the perfect moment or thought. Launch now.Try to turn good enough into the new perfection. It is best if you become comfortable with making mistakes.
“To be courageous, we must be willing to surrender our perfectionism, if only for a moment. If my self-worth is attached to being flawless, why would I ever try to learn anything new?” — Vironika Tugaleva
Perfectionism is the desired performance trait in more than 100 of our 500+ benchmarks. However, it is best if you stop seeing traits in black and white terms. Success results from combining your high-performance traits to match the situation. Life is a work in progress. So, strive to do your best, not for perfection.
Hustle Is the Key to Success
“Nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week.” — Elon Musk
He suggests 80 hours per week or even more.
The always hustle culture myth pushes you to be producing all the time. You can only rely on brute force taking you so far. There is a limit to sacrificing rest, free time, and deep focus.
Research shows that working too hard harms your well-being. It produces fatigue, stress, and job dissatisfaction. So, putting in too much extra effort impairs your performance.
Be Happy with Your Life
It is best if you get to a place where you do not feel the need to complain. So do not work yourself to the point of burnout or unhappiness. It takes hard work and dedication to be successful. However, there is no need to sacrifice your life in the process.
Work Smart, Not Hard
What you do matters more than the effort you put in to achieve the outcome. Quality overrules quantity. Both your mind and body benefit from purposeful breaks. Pausing at the right time is productive. Often your best ideas will show up when you stop looking.
Neuroscience research suggests that to unleash our creativity, we need to slow down and take in the latest information. Research shows that creative and open-minded people have slower nerve connections.
Success is a curious thing. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. So, it is vital that you find your pace, as you do not want to burn out before finding fulfillment. A perfect life is living the life you want. So, do not let the expectations of others define your choices.
Many myths force you to think in binary terms. As discussed, it is wrong-minded thinks that you are either
- a perfectionist or mediocre
- an introvert or an extrovert
- a leader or a follower
To overcoming myths and stereotypes, you need to integrate opposing concepts and find balance. You are rarely one thing or the other. You have some traits of both. Success comes from being decisive, engaging, reliable, and adaptable — all behaviours we can choose.
Situational strengths — using the requisite traits for the situation is vital to effective adaptability. Some of the required traits will be natural strengths. However, some will be challenges. It is best if you know what is needed, so you can lead with your strengths, and manage your challenges.
Your identity is fluid too. It is critical that you do not let myths define you. Furthermore, you will never know what you are capable of until you learn what is needed and try it.
Insights About Your Performance DNA To Advance Your Career
We are incredibly passionate about Performance DNA and the impact this scientific insight can have on you. Using SuccessFinder, you can discover your performance strengths and challenges.
In a given role, the high-performers have a common subset of performance traits. Our talent analytics compares your talent stack — performance traits and competencies — with high performers. We show you how to leverage your unique talents to achieve career satisfaction and success.
Focus on your strengths and manage your challenges. You complete the assessment online, we then provide you report and personal feedback via video call. We offer the service worldwide. We’d love to hear from you!Let’s Talk!