Five Lies I No Longer Believe
I’ve heard it said that a part of growing older is realizing that things are more grey than they originally appeared. The hard lines and black-and-white simplicity of youth become blurry with experience and wisdom. While I’ve experienced my share of these, I’ve also realized there are assumptions or even outright lies that were hard baked into me over time that I’m now choosing to abandon. Here they are, in no particular order.
“Comfort is the goal of life”
This is a pervasive and sinister belief that has – at times – caused me to compromise more than I should. When I aspire to comfort as the greatest goal of life, I refuse anything that might cause me pain or hardship, even if that means I have to abandon my pursuit of true north.
It is struggle that gives life its meaning, and the pauses and blessings that punctuate its landscape. Sometimes that struggle is against self and the laziness that craves only comfort. The creative process is a personal assault on the beachhead of apathy, and to succumb to the path of comfort is to turn our backs on the greatness that is on the other side of sacrifice. I refuse to allow comfort to be my ambition. Comfort is often the enemy of greatness.
“Be careful or you’ll run out of money”
I’ve never lived in poverty, though when I was a full-time musician in my early twenties I would celebrate having $15 in my account after monthly bills were paid. (It’s steak dinner time!) Still, I realized recently that for much of my life I’ve held the belief that I was only a few mistakes away from losing everything, and that it was more important to protect what I have than to focus on what is possible.
A scarcity mindset invades every area of life, and when I’m mostly concerned with protecting what I have I lose my ability to recognize opportunities, or I refuse to act on them because of what could be lost. I refuse to subscribe to a scarcity mindset any longer.
“Everyone else knows something you don’t”
I’ve spent much of my life feeling a bit on the “outside”. People often refuse to believe this, because I don’t appear to struggle relationally or in leadership roles. Still, an “outsider” mindset is something from which no one is immune. Some extremely celebrated business leaders and entertainers I’ve spent time with have privately shared their insecurities about whether or not they are really liked.
Even worse is the fear that everyone else has some insider knowledge or “inside track” that I don’t. In reality, everyone – no matter how confident they appear – is making it up as they go. At least a little. People who thrive are those who are able to get past this fear and simply and fully engage in the work in front of them. That’s what I aspire to.
“You are your work”
Tricky, tricky. As a creative, so much of what I make is defined by my intuitions, preferences and influences. As a result, my work is highly personal, as it should be. At the same time, there is a subtle switch that can be thrown that causes me to start to believe that who I am goes only as far as the latest work I’ve done or the title I hold.
I am not my work, and I am especially not defined by how my work is received. That is not an excuse for laziness, it’s permission to engage fully and freely and to bless everyone I encounter without worrying about what they think of me. This is hard medicine to swallow in a culture that celebrates title and the little spaces we carve for ourselves in the marketplace. Not me, not any longer.
“It will never be this good again”
Fear of the unknown causes us to grasp tightly to what we can see and touch and smell. We are afraid that risk may result in losing what we have, and that our future state could never be as good as what we have now. But when we refuse to risk and go outside of ourself, our world becomes a smaller and smaller set of concentric circles that eventually closes in on us.
Honestly, I don’t care if it’s never “this good” again. I refuse to look back with regret over what I didn’t do because of fear. I choose to only regret aggressive mistakes and never again to look back on inaction with regret.
Lies are tricky because they appear under the guise of wisdom, but soon rot your life from the inside out. These are just a few of the lies I’m weeding out of my life. How about you?
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I'm Todd Henry.
I write books, speak internationally on productivity, creativity, leadership, and passion for work, and help people and teams generate brilliant ideas.