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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 entir