Everybody wants to be successful. No matter what success might mean for you, you want it badly. The definition of success itself differs from a person to another. I won’t get into the seemingly unending debate about the definition of success and all that philosophical arguments about the purpose of life. That would be boring, right ?
However, the definition of success that this post will be based upon is the common one which is: the attainment of desirable goals that are, most of the time, related to professional life. So, I wanna talk about one of the common things that people do and they think that it’s getting them closer to success.
This common thing is the habit of reading success stories. Not just reading for fun, but reading and thinking that this is the best way to learn how you can become successful. I can understand that success stories can be a source of motivation. But, thinking that reading them constantly can ultimately help you achieve your goals is HUGE mistake.
What Is Life All About Anyway ?
Before getting into that (success stories), it’s really important to take a step back and try to see things in a macro perspective so that you can be able to understand what life is all about. The best way to do that is to take a look back at our history.
If you take a look at you major concerns in life, you’ll find three essential things: Health, family (friends) and achieving your goals (achieving success). Everything else in your life is somehow related to one of these three things. But wait, what about happiness ? isn’t that what every human being seeks ?
Absolutely, but happiness is just a result. It’s the feeling you get when everything in your life seems to be exactly where it should be.
For a long time in history, we tried so hard to protect the two first elements which are family and health. There was no such thing as self-accomplishment (personal success). People were struggling to protect their loved ones and keep them safe. Besides, we’ve spent decades trying to figure out how to improve our immune system and how to extend our life expectancy.
Nowadays, things got so much better in health and security than ever before in history. So, people had started looking for other things to improve in their lives and this when the concept of personal success rose to the surface. People want more than just good health and safety. They want something more. They want to be distinguished from others by accomplishing something that they can be proud of.
Actually, the psychologist Abraham Maslow explained this in his paper in 1943 called “A theory of human motivation” when he used a pyramid to describe the hierarchy of human needs. As you can see below, we, at least the majority of us, are currently in the top of the pyramid. We seek self-actualization.
The Problem With Reading Success Stories
So, you wanna be successful, right ? The first thing you do is grabbing a few books about success and start reading them. You try to understand how others managed to achieve success. You wanna know what are the things that you should be doing in order to achieve a similar success. This is what most people do. Reading books has been always a good way to start.
Reason 1# is called Dopamine
However, there might be a problem with the content you read. Most of success stories don’t get into the boring and unwanted details. It’s a bad marketing strategy. Instead, they focus on telling stories in a way that will get you addicted. They want you to keep buying their so called success books.
So, they’re telling you exactly what you wanna hear. They present the successful person as a primary character in a heroic novel when he has everything all figured out. They try to make him everything that you wanna be yourself so that you’ll love him. At first sight, this does no harm. It’s even better. You get to learn how to become successful alongside with having fun. But, there might be a problem.
Reading these stories can be somehow self-fulfilling. They will trick your mind to release a chemical which it usually releases when you get something done. It’s called Dopamine. It’s a chemical released by neurons which plays a major role in all reward-motivation behaviors. Dopamine is usually released when you achieve something to increase your motivation towards that particular activity.
The downside of Dopamine is that it can be addictive. So when your brain releases Dopamine while reading a book about success, you’ll be more likely to become addicted to this activity. As a result, you’ll keep buying similar books without taking any real action towards your actual goals which were the reason of reading these books in the first place.
Reason 2# They’re full of clichés
In addition, the tips included in most of those success stories are clichés. Terms like hard work, cleverness and innovation can mean a lot of things. They can be interpreted in many different ways by the reader. But, this kind of books don’t usually get into the details of these terms and don’t provide real practical advice.
So, saying things like “you should be more innovative” won’t do you any good. Even worse, tips like this one is the reason why so many people fail before even starting. They, clichés tips, give us the impression that successful people have some sort of magical power that others don’t simply have.
Instead, there are many great books out there that can replace those typical success stories that won’t get you anywhere. Books that aren’t trying to please your ego or make out of successful people living gods. They won’t tell you that life is all rainbows and sunshine. Books such as How To Win Friends and Influence People, Think and Grow Rich, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, The 4-Hour Work Week, Rich Dad Poor Dad, The One Thing and others… I will for sure talk about some of these books thoroughly in the future.
In Other Words
So, the main idea of this post is that reading success stories is actually doing you more harm than good. Reading a lot about success will consume a lot of your time that would have been better if you’re using it to work on your goals. It’s like you’re living the illusion of success instead of working to achieve real success. Stop lying to yourself and GET DOWN TO IT. Enough procrastination already.
If this post is describing your actual state at this moment, then I highly recommend reading my article about How To Stop Being Lazy & Start Living which I think will help you get your life together and start your journey towards the success you want.
Don’t forget to share this article with your friends. Besides, if you have any questions or anything you can comment below.