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Monday, December 16, 2013

More terrible advice from lists

Most lists are made for amusement value, the most famous of which is probably the David Letterman Show’s “Top Ten” lists, or maybe “The Book of Lists”.

And then there’s the self help / management advice lists, such as “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.

But while some of the advice can be good, often the advice is just a bunch of clichés thrown together. And it’s often the case that for each cliché, there’s an equal and opposite cliché.

So let’s take one of these lists and see if we can make a case for the opposite being true. I’m going to pick on

8 Things Happy, Successful People Never Say


a post by Mark Chernhofff, who has a book called “1,000+ Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently”.  I don’t intend to read that book, and at any event taking on 1,000+ things is just too many. Let’s try 8, and see why good human beings might occasionally need to say these things.

#1: “My goals and dreams can wait.”

Yes, if you put your goals and dreams on hold forever, they will never be achieved. But sometimes others are more important than you are. You may have to put at least some of your goals and dreams on the back burner, or you will be a terrible father to your small children.

#2.  “I don’t have a choice.”

Sometimes you don’t. Suck it up.

3.  “They are probably right, so I must be wrong.”

Yes, you should listen to what other people say. If everyone disagrees with you, it’s quite possible they are right. If you have a car full of people and a Garmin GPS unit all telling you that you need to turn right at the next intersection, you should consider the possibility that they might be correct.

4.  “This sucks.”

Sometimes things do suck. Recognizing that fact can give you the motivation to change.

5.  “I hate you.”

I’m with Chernhoff on this one. No argument. Negative emotions about others fester and ultimately are destructive to your own happiness – sometimes without affecting the other person much at all. Forgive. You will be a better person for it.

6.  “I can’t.”

Sometimes you can’t. Recognizing what you can do, what you can’t do, and what you might be able to do if you tried hard and had some luck is important to perspective.

7.  “I missed my chance.”

Yes, maybe you did. Realize you missed that bus, stop wasting energy trying to chase it down, and try to make the next bus. One of the wonderful things about America is that there are second chances for people.

8.  “Never mind… it’s not important…”

Sometimes it’s not important. If you missed that bus because you helped an old woman get her packages to her car and she says “but I made you miss your bus” – saying “Never mind … it’s not important…” is exactly the right thing to say.

The score: for 7 out of 8 it’s not hard to see where successful, happy people would sometimes say these things – and be more successful and happier for saying them.

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