If we are not careful, we can get drawn into the swirl of myths that destroy careers. Here are seven dangerous ones:
- "Money corrupts." Wrong. There are plenty of perfectly nice people who are wealthy and yet are not captured or corrupted by their wealth.
- "Planning deadens the soul. Spontaneity is better and more human." Can spontaneity be fun? Yes, but it can also be self-indulgent and irresponsible. Moreover, the opposite of planning is not spontaneity, but drift. The most successful artists are highly self-disciplined in their work life.
- "Everybody does it." No, they don't. And even if they did, so what? Do we use a calculator to determine what's ethical? ("If we can get two more people on board with this scheme, it's ethical.")
- "Don't waste your time on boring jobs. Find out what you love and then make that your career." You can learn a great deal (along with some money) from unappealing jobs. The hard truth is we often don't know what we want until we learn what we don't want. Jobs that may seem dull on the surface can be very interesting once you get on the inside.
- "Be yourself." Yeah, sure, provided you are a nice and productive person. If not, try being someone else.
- "Strive for perfection in everything you do." This is a handy formula for paralysis. You should strive to do well and to improve, but life requires balance in all things. There are times when achieving "satisfactory" is wiser than going all out for "outstanding."
- "Be open with your feelings. Let it all hang out." This works only if you are surrounded by saints. In other circumstances, your candor will have armed current and future adversaries.