MIND 13th September 2017

How NOT to be successful


Yesterday, I came across a candid blog post, questioning the so-called keys to success. It began:

No, You Shouldn’t Wake Up At 5 AM…

You don’t have to follow anybody’s morning routine.

Because you know what? I’m just going to tell it like it is.

Getting up at 5 AM…

And drinking warm water with lemon…

And doing an intermittent fast…

And reading a book a day…

And meditating for 45 minutes…

…will not make you a successful person.’

Intrigued, I read on.

And I’m glad I did, for it confirmed a suspicion I’ve had for some time now.  Every self-help author, Youtuber and podcaster wants you to believe success comes from some version of the above. In reality, it doesn’t.

According to the blog’s author, Jon Westenberg, individuals who preach a prescribed formula are usually no more enlightened, or happier than the rest of us. Wealthier, maybe.

Self-Help is big business. In 2014, the industry was worth $10bln a year in the U.S. alone. The ‘7 Habits’ and ‘Miracle Morning’ authors know this, and so we are spoilt for choice at Barnes & Noble.

In the past ten years I have read close to 80 business and self-help books, yet, I don’t boast Warren Buffet’s bank balance or the Dalai Lama’s wisdom. Sure, I’m comfortable, but I’m nowhere near where I want to be.

So what gives?

Let’s take spiritual enlightenment. For you or me to experience true bliss, it would take living in a Tibetan monastery, learning from monks who dedicate their entire lives to the cause. True enlightenment is a full-time job, not a 5 AM jog around the block.

But we want it to be, so we sign up, subscribe, buy the book, and make the authors a bunch of money along the way.

Choose habits which serve you

This means, do only what you enjoy and what improves you. Do not read stoic philosophy or Machiavelli just because podcaster XYZ said it made them a better person. The same does not necessarily hold true for you.

Consider reading 5-6 articles a day, who said books hold the monopoly on knowledge anyway? Always ask why, and drop the habit, if you can’t legitimately answer that.

As Westenberg puts it, ‘success comes from luck, timing, hard work, perseverance and the ability to eat a lot of shit while everyone else gets ahead of you, because you believe that eating that shit will pay off’. In other words, success is not a prescribed set of daily habits.

Doing what you love, and being around those you love – that is success. Just be true to yourself on your journey. Life’s too short to live out someone else’s agenda.

As always, pushing for health.

P.s. Photo taken in January 2016, a cold winter morning at 5 AM – I too, drank the kool-aid.