When I’m reading stories of success I can’t help but feel torn.
Reading up on stories from Chris guillebeau’s blog and others I can’t help but feel that I’m missing out.
Travelers who come back changed individuals, location independent entrepreneurs. Those who go and live in a different country.
Rags to riches stories of how someone makes a lot of money from a side hustle.
These are people who took a massive leap of faith and it pays of.
I have read stories like this for years. It’s what inspired me to take up writing and art.
But it’s not so much the money that creates the envy in me.
It’s the reality that they are living a life they created and works for them. They had the courage to do something that was difficult and it paid off.
It’s what I want for myself more than anything. A life of meaning, connection, courage and creativity.
Yet a part of me, the sceptical, rational side has doubts about these stories.
I wonder though, are these people happier now than they were before? I say this because I’ve read enough studies in psychology to know that possessions, wealth, status don’t make us happier.
Are these successful types really living a better life, is it not stressful?
What do they worry about? Do they feel their business is a burden? Are they thinking of packing it up and trying something new?
Is their new lifestyle as amazing as these stories suggest?
None of these questions gets answered in these stories.
I question because I’m in two minds about being an entrepreneur. Is having a tribe right for me or will it just feel like so much responsibility that it sucks the enjoyment out of it?
Perhaps I just doubt my own capacity to cope with such a job. But that doesn’t answer the question.
Another thing that irritates me is the ‘grand gesture’. Those who take a massive leap and end up on their feet. Letting go of their current job without another ready to take up. Or travelling the world working to earn the money to travel.
I feel I want to make such a leap. But I’m too afraid. Again I doubt my skills and my capability to do such a thing.
Yet I’m reminded that such skills can be learned. My problem is that I can’t see myself in this role.
My gripe here is these stories are often lacking in their educational value. They inspire us, yes, but they don’t tell us if such a lifestyle or success is right for us. Or how lucky they are to have achieved it.
My sceptical side also reminds me of Availability Bias, Survivor bias. A recognition that these stories are but the tip-of-the-iceberg. We only get to hear about the successful individuals. For every success story there are likely to be tens if not hundreds of failures.
People who took a leap and it never worked out. Who travelled, quit their dead-end job, or started a business and it fell flat.
These stories give us a false impression. That sufficient hustle, bravery and skill are enough to make success inevitable.
I want to hear the other stories, the failures. Because we can learn more from failure than success. Like the Museum of Failed products.
What we need is a collection of failed dreamers and dreams. Projects that didn’t take off. So we can ask and investigate why they went wrong. It’s often easier to spot mistake and flaws.
I feel all these stories should have a warning on them. Caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware.
It’s why we should always be wary of such stories and expert advice. Be sceptical about workshops and courses, blog posts, and books that offer up amazing dreams.
The danger is these experts, seduced by their own success, don’t realise just how exceptional they are. It’s a part of what is called the Dunning-Kruger effect.
They can also fail to acknowledge the role of luck in their success.
It’s not just the bad advice or dubious experts that can leave us like this. Indeed there may be a greater risk of this with good advice, and those at the very top.
Their success blinds us into accepting their authority and advice without question. Because we fail to understand that their advice may only be partially applicable to our own lives.
These stories are half-truths. A lot of our success and failure is down to luck. Yet that doesn’t sell books or seminars so it’s never mentioned. People don’t want to read that.
Such experts can unwittingly give the wrong impression. That the path towards success is knowable, explainable, and that success is based on our choices and hard work. (Our Agency).
I want to change, I want my life to change. These stories are tantalising, yet also troublesome.
They give me the desire to become greater, yet that desire is what causes me to suffer. The demoralised feeling that I am, and never will be good enough to realise my dreams.
If there one thing that can demotivate it’s comparing yourself to others. These stories make us all suffer.
Stories can foster confusion and self-doubt. They get us to dream of possibilities but don’t give us the difficult, dull, paradoxical truths necessary to achieve them.
It makes me feel sometimes that I never read stories like this, and I wish I hadn’t started again.
Yet despite this, they do inspire me. Giving me pause, to consider if I have what it takes.
We really do have to be careful when reading such stories or accepting advice from experts.
They talk of half-truths, give us goals we may not desire, illusory notions of certainty, and present a false sense of authority.
Without scepticism, we can be lead astray by other people’s bright advice. Which become our delusions of grandeur.