I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't want to be successful. But to meet that goal, you have to have a solid sense of philosophies that actually work in the office and ones that are...well, let's just call them crap.
Scott Moody, CEO and founder of K4Connect, has gained that perspective in part from experience in Silicon Valley. But he's also had other life experience--brain tumor treatment, deaths in the family, and travels to Rwanda, for example--that have allowed him to separate the truths from the nonsense. And he's pinpointed the top three myths that routinely hold talented people back.
1. The idea of work-life balance is something to obsess over.
"The fact is, if you really want to climb that corporate ladder, or start your own company, it's going to take a LOT of work. Sure, you can say that you are only going to work 9-5, and that can work, as long as you talk everyone else in the company, or every other startup in the world, into only working 9-5 -- and that is just not happening. It takes work, and that takes time, period."
Moody says, too, that life isn't made up of only two things (work and the rest of your life). It's actually a big mash of many things, such as church, hobbies, and friends. And each of those can get broken down even more, for instance by splitting family into parents and siblings.
"So it's all a matter of setting priorities. [...In] my late 20s, when things were really going well in my career, my wife's grandmother died, [and...] my eyes were opened when I walked into that church--it was packed. [...] It was then that I realized I had my priorities all wrong; that Mary Brugh had touched more people in her life than I ever could no matter how rich I was. The next weekend I spoke to my wife (now of 39 years) about having children...[I] get a lot wrong [...], but knowing where my priorities are while working very hard is not one of them."
2. Failure is a fact of life.
"You hear a lot about failure nowadays, from failure is OK if not desirable to this idea of 'failing fast'. But I don't really believe in failure. Sure, ideas fail, products fail, companies fail, and I have been to entire countries that have failed. But you only fail when you give up. Otherwise, it is just an experience."
In other words, don't worry about whether you met some crazy, arbitrary, socially-constructed standards. Just worry about doing the absolute best you can, and be aware of what every moment brings to you, objectively learning about yourself and the world at every step. The end result might not be what you expected or wanted, but you'll still have more information and maturity to direct future decisions than when you started. That's always a win.
3. The corporate ladder is for everybody.
"I'm telling you, if you want to climb that corporate ladder or if you want to start a company, it is going to take a lot of work, no matter how smart you are (or more likely, think you are)," says Moody. "Take Lebron James or Tom Brady, two people that are naturally talented, but do you really think they won all those rings without working really hard? I mean, really hard. But that world is not for everyone, and you shouldn't really care what others are doing or telling you to do.
"I've known folks that solely had a job so they could fund other things in their lives -- from raising horses to caring for a loved one, to just spending more time with friends and family. They're happy, but I would note that the happiest are only those that enjoy their jobs. That does not mean they want to be president or even a manager, but they don't dread going into work every day, don't watch that clock for it to hit 5 p.m. so they can get out of there."
So while you should try to find work you like, it's OK if you're not in the C-Suite. Titles don't mean success. Being able to end the day happy with yourself and your situation does.