Have you ever looked at successful people and wondered what they do differently? How did they get to the level of success they enjoy today? If you stopped to chat with one of these super successes, they’ll probably just hand you a canned response, such as, “I just got lucky.”
But what you might not know is some of what Mr. and Ms. Successful tell you is a lie. That neighbor you’ve been quietly envying is just really good at keeping up appearances. But The Cheat Sheet is here to pull back the curtain and decode what successful people really mean when they feed you their one-liners. Here are 10 lies really successful people tell to average Americans.
1. Things just fell into place
Nothing just “falls into place.” You have to do a bit of work behind the scenes for things to run smoothly, whether it’s in your professional or personal life. Successful people set goals and then put plans in place, so they can reach those goals. John Addison, the leadership editor for Success and author of Real Leadership, said in his column that successful people tend to set daily goals, not just one long-term goal.
What you do today greatly affects whether or not you will achieve your future dreams. You have to intentionally design each and every day in a way that leads to getting things done that will maximize your results. That does not mean being busy every minute of the day for the sake of being busy. That means knowing what is important and focusing on those things.
Next: With 658 unused vacation days, you can forget about a good work-life balance.
2. I have work-life balance
No one truly has a perfect balance between work and life. Most Americans are putting in a lot of time on the job. Unfortunately, taking a vacation has become a rarity in our modern world of work. Employees had a total of 658 million unused vacation days in 2016, according to research by Project Time Off.
And even if a top employee decides to take a break, chances are he or she probably did some work during that vacation. A survey by Alamo Rent a Car found 34% percent of millennials said they worked every day of their vacations. Not surprisingly, they also reported feeling less productive when they returned.
Next: That big project was harder than it looked.
3. Getting that project done was a breeze
Executives who enjoy tremendous success consult other people when they’re working on a major project. Successful people make difficult projects look easy by delegating the work. They’ve learned if you want something done right, it isn’t always wise to do everything yourself.
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, said a key ingredient to success is people. “One of the key skills I learned as a young businessman was the power of delegation. That’s what prompted me to bring in strong managers to build the Virgin companies, which allowed me to focus on our latest ideas and projects and on finding the next businesses to start up,” Branson said in an interview with Entrepreneur.
Next: Luck alone won’t get you very far.
4. I got lucky
If someone tells you he or she just got lucky, don’t believe it. The big successes don’t rely on luck alone. It takes a lot of hard work and knowing the right people. In the case of small-business owners, it sometimes takes the financial support of friends and family.
“Once startup entrepreneurs are done considering their options, it’s not unusual for them to ask friends or family for startup cash,” said contributor Caron Beesly on the Small Business Administration blog. “After all, unlike private investors or banks, these people know and trust you. It’s possible they can get you quicker access to cash with fewer flaming hoops to jump through.”
5. I’m so happy
What many of the most successful people won’t tell you is that their lives aren’t all that great. Long hours at the office, missed opportunities to spend time with the family, and lack of sleep can be a recipe for disaster. If you think having authority at work will make you happier, you might be wrong. Research suggests CEOs, for example, experience depression at more than twice the rate of the general public. Another study found a possible link between increased job authority and depression.
6. This outfit just fell out of my closet
The most successful people don’t have time to shop. They’re too busy going to meetings, networking, and growing businesses. The reason why your wildly successful colleague or acquaintance always looks so fab is because he or she likely has a personal fashion consultant. So don’t feel bad if you have trouble looking perfectly put together every day.
7. I always make time for my family
The ones who look like they do it all don’t. Successful people utilize nannies, personal assistants, day cares, and the help of friends and family members when it comes to child care. If he or she needs to work from home, it’s unlikely that person will be balancing a phone in one hand and feeding a child with the other. Successful people hire help, and so should you. Don’t feel pressured to do everything yourself.
8. I love my job
Few people at the top will admit to being unhappy at work. The way they see it, saying the slightest negative thing about a high-powered position will just look ungrateful. However, reaching the pinnacle of your career often comes with a new set of problems.
Newly minted C-suiters and high-level managers face a lot more pressure when they reach the top. They are now being held to a higher work standard, and the expectation to perform flawlessly during those first 60 to 90 days on the job can be overwhelming. If the promotion was internal, they also have to face changing relationships and jealousy from co-workers.
9. I’m doing OK financially
Many workers become a victim of lifestyle inflation once they reach a certain level of success and start making more money. The temptation to spend more because you’re making more can be too much to resist. This leads to uncontrollable debt and increased financial stress. Continuing to spend more each time income increases can eventually lead to living paycheck to paycheck. Then, the raises and promotions aren’t enough to sustain the new lavish lifestyle.
10. I’m perfectly fine
Whenever you ask someone at the office how he or she is doing, you’ll likely get a reply of “I’m fine” or “I’m OK.” Most of the time, that’s not the case — especially when it comes to the most successful among us. High-level managers and those who have worked their way to the C-suite aren’t living perfect lives. They have their own set of problems, too. Researchers have found the average CEO is more prone to psychopathy and developing addictions.
Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.