How The Myths You Tell Yourself Can Limit Your Success

  • Networking is the best way to find a job.

  • I am a terrible public speaker!

  • It’s important to workout for an hour every day.

Are you holding onto any myths that you’ve allowed allowed to shape your life or work experience? Most of us are!


Myths can be tough to shake because they are commonly accepted beliefs or ideas that parade as fact, yet actually they are not completely or at all true.

Why Myths Aren’t Your Friend

Some myths are so universally held that they’ve morphed into beliefs about big topics that some pockets of society frown upon even challenging. Huge, huge pity. Everything is worth questioning, even what seems to be obvious by many. Challenging ideas, processes, approaches, theories, actions and beliefs is what leads to more accurate information, invention, innovation and improvement.


Some myths are beliefs we hold about ourselves. These are tough to tease out too because we’ve come to accept them as fact even though they might be opinions we formed in our youth that aren’t the least bit valid.


No matter the type of myth, it’s really important for each of us to dig deep and see what generally accepted stories we’re holding onto — about ourselves or life in general — that impact how we think and what we do because:

  1. They may actually be false and therefore misdirecting our energies.

  2. They may be false, and not challenging them prevents advancement.

  3. And perhaps most importantly, myths put our mind into default mode and limit creative thought and our ability to lead ourselves and others most effectively.

Myths At Work

Take an example from my own past work life. For decades, many municipal governments commonly embraced a particular way to develop their annual budgets. The approach involved each department head building their domain’s own budget in a vacuum. They might identify a new big project or two but otherwise they would just tack on something like a 2% increase to the exact same staff positions, supplies and deliverables year after year. I was surprised to learn this was the way things were done, let alone that it was widely accepted as a best practice.


When I took over as the deputy mayor of a midsized city, I was fortunate to work for a mayor who sought improvement. He gave me the latitude to pull together a budget team and hold brainstorming meetings with all the department heads in one room so they could share how their big visions and dreams could contribute to the mayor’s overall vision. These leaders now were able to all collaborate on how best to implement fresh projects in a creative, money-saving, multi-departmental way.


We also built the budget from scratch — zero-based budgeting — so that everything from the needs for office supplies to the methods used to carry out road projects received a fresh look.

The entire budgeting process was transformed from one that had been tense and rigid to one where department heads were energetic, engaged and pulling for each other.

By challenging the mythical best budgeting methodology that had been embraced for decades, ideas were solicited from the public and from staff at every level of the organization. New, more effective and more fiscally responsible ways to deliver services were identified. Projects that added to the community’s safety, economy and character were developed and implemented.


The entire budgeting process was transformed from one that had been tense and rigid — with department heads keeping their plans close to the vest and feeling they had to compete for limited resources — to one where department heads were energetic, engaged and pulling for each other. This overhaul also led to our forming an innovation team that identified $6 million in savings and improvements.

Mythical Consequences

Are there any myths you can identify that guide your workplace processes, approaches, beliefs and actions? How about those that guide you personally? There’s such a blur between our personal and professional worlds nowadays that possibly a myth is lurking that’s impacting you in both arenas.

For instance, going back to my original examples, do you have thoughts that you’re not good at something like public speaking? If you thought about it, is it possible that belief is based on an outdated opinion? Perhaps it stems from when you were shy and unsure as a freshman in college and you panicked every time you had to give a class presentation.

Are your myths holding you back from deeper friendships, sharing some really good perspectives and advancing your career?

Maybe that experience was enough for you to avoid expressing your humor with friends or speaking up in meetings at work decades later. As a result, you’re holding yourself back from deeper friendships, sharing some really good perspectives and advancing your career.


Wow, right? Sometime what seems like a little thought or belief can really have a much larger impact than we might think.

How To Uncover & Redirect Your Myths

To explore what myths may be lurking within, simply begin by looking at the actions you take, the beliefs you hold and the fundamental principles you have about a particular aspect of the world at large (how life works, politics, health, social issues or any topic of choice) or your own life (work processes, how you run meetings, your personal relationships, your food choices, your behavior with family, etc.).

Keep digging, even if challenging yourself and your familiar thoughts and actions gets uncomfortable, until you see what is at the core.

Look hard at why you do what you do and why think what you think. What’s there? How accurate is it? Keep digging, even if challenging yourself and your familiar thoughts and actions gets uncomfortable, until you see what is at the core. Maybe you’ll dig and verify something is a fact, which can make you more confident in your beliefs. If you uncover a myth, ask yourself why you’ve been holding onto it, and what it would look like if you released it and replaced it with something more positive and accurate.

You’re in charge of you, and you’re your number #1 asset, so give yourself the gift of spending some quality time exploring any myths you may be living. You may uncover some beliefs you can let go of and in their place find some exciting new opportunities for how you approach work, life and leading yourself and others. __________ Trie Angeleva is a mindful career strategist who writes about mindful leadership and career transformation. Follow her on instagram at @reimaginemonday for tips and strategies on how to lead yourself and others and love what you do.