The Top 3 Bad Advice that might be holding you back from being great.

Bad advice is everywhere, from your single friend’s relationship advice to Donald Trump’s twitter consultants’. The worst of its kind is ‘popular-advice’ because most of it is flaunted out of context. Unfortunately for us, there’s a lot of it around. Unless we really understand what situations popular-advice applies to, taking it too seriously could lead to extremism. Whether it is about life, writing a speech, or even religion – taking things out of context is not very smart.

These are the top 3 “advice” that you might be taking too seriously. If you are, then they might be holding you back from reaching your highest potential. This article is not about rejecting these out-right, but it’s about putting things to context.

  1. Follow your passion

When Steve Jobs made this the “buzz phrase of the decade” for every public-speaker, teacher and nagging girlfriend; he forgot to put things to context. If you were like me, after listening to his Stanford Commencement Address you would have dumped everything out and focused completely on your ‘passion’ – believing that someday “success” will manifest out of nowhere and hand you the Medal of Honor that no one said you would get.

But reality is bitter. Think of it like this – passion for work is only an intense emotion just like anger, depression and lust. If you let your emotions be the basis of how you take your decisions, nothing will get done.

Emotions change with time, so do the things we like. For example – jumping in a puddle of mud when you were 4 made you extremely happy, but as an adult you’ll think its stupid. Similarly if you ask someone what they love doing and ask them the same question 10 years from now, the answers will be completely different. You don’t want to choose something now and lose interest somewhere down the line because the thing you had passion for changed. You’ll get nowhere.

The smarter thing to do is choose something that is meaningful and useful by asking yourself ‘what can I do that will add value to the world?’. Defining your purpose well can give you a strong foundation that channels your focus to the right things. If your purpose is firm then it wont change with your emotions (or time). If you find something meaningful to do, then pursue it with as much deliberation as possible until you get really great at it. Scientific studies have proven that people tend to love doing things that they are highly skilled at (this is also called the state of “Flow”), which means “passion” is not something that comes first but something that actually comes later. Luckily for Steve Jobs, he didn’t have to do what most of us need to do – “Look for something meaningful and useful” – because he was born at the time when computers were about to pick up and had an environment to support his journey.

If you take a look at Steve Jobs’s life, his family lived 7 minutes away from Silicon Valley. When he was 12, Jobs was able to directly call the founder of Hewlett Packard to ask for some spare parts for the frequency counter he was building (Yes he at the age of 12 he had discovered how to build electronics) Impressed by young Jobs’s initiative, the Hewlett Packard founder offered him an internship at the HP Assembly unit (where he might have received a lot of exposure in building electronics). His discovery of computers at an early age gave him enough time to get highly skilled at developing computers and understand how they worked. You and I might not have the same opportunities or backgrounds that assists so much growth. So,

The advice would be better if its “Find something meaningful and useful, then pursue that as passionately as possible”

If you haven’t discovered it yet, What meaningful and useful thing can you put your talents and efforts to?

  1. Never give up

Will Ferrell is known to be a very successful comedian. One day, when Ferrel was starting out, he came home after a tough stand-up gig. Seeing his disappointed face his dad came up to him and said these words “I want you to know that it’s OK to quit if things don’t work out. Because there’s a lot of luck involved in making it to the top in comedy”.

Ferrell says that this “took off all the pressure I had to become successful in comedy.” He says he used to tell himself ‘Thank God I have a college degree’”. He also says that this might have helped him to speak more freely and talk about uncomfortable subject without trying to play it safe – which in turn made him a better comedian. The lesson from this – when success is your only option, sometimes you can take things too seriously and kill your creativity.

There is no doubt that it’s essential to have Grit and perseverance in what you believe in. But you must also know that it is OK to quit if things don’t really work out. There are somethings that don’t have merit in pursuing. Giving up the pursuit can be the one choice that can completely turn your life around to the good.

There’s a great quote by Brian Tracy on this –

“You are only as free as your options, develop alternatives to every situation”

This is not good advice for a relationship, but it sure is good advice for your career or business.

  1. Nothing is impossible

If nothing is impossible – impossibility is also possible. Therefore somethings are surely impossible.

The truth is if you think creatively, most problems can be solved, most things can be achieved. But it is a foolish pursuit if physically average humans like myself believe that we can beat Usain Bolt in the 100 meter sprint. It might be possible only if I had a youth that lasted 40 years where I can practice enough to build the muscle I need.Same goes to artistry and innovation. Everyone isn’t equal. But each of us have different talents that are embedded in us.

It’s better to know your boundaries and your talents so that you can really focus on what you can excel in.

The next time you hear advice like this, always put things to context, even if its given by someone regarded to be wise. Ask yourself if the advice is valid and if it applies to multiple situations.

What bad advice have you received? Let me know in the comments below.


One thought on “The Top 3 Bad Advice that might be holding you back from being great.

  1. Great post, thanks for sharing!
    I do agree with you about the third advice!! Nothing is impossible!! sounds like a lie!! Those advice are said just to give a fake hope to the listener, I think!

    I found your little space in the community pool, so glad I
    did!! amazing write up!!!keep writing and inspire us…. surely will be waiting
    for more!!
    Please do visit my blog when time permits, thanks in advance
    and see you there! 🙂


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