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Oct 31

How reliant are you on myths for running your business?

Myths are an important part of every culture

"59 Seconds" by Professor Richard Wiseman dispels many business myths and presents scientifically proven techniques to help people identify and achieve realistic goals. Too much of the "self-help" industry peddles "facts" which have no foundation.  Wiseman takes aim at the "Yale Goal Study", which is often cited as proof that writing down specific goals will have a dramatic impact on the success you achieve in later life.  This is also known as the "Harvard Written Goal Study". They share common features which some will find disturbing:

  • What amounts to a ritual incantation of "Yale" or "Harvard" to add credibility to these spurious claims.
  • "If you hear something often enough, you start to believe it to the true".
  • The way so-called self-help gurus and supposedly reputable business consultants quote one or other Goal Study as a reason why you should pay good money for their particular blend of modern-day snake oil.
  • Lastly, the extravagant and unfounded claim that the 3% that had specific written goals had accumulated far more wealth than the other 97% combined.

Don't imagine being fit, imagine how you are going to get fit

Self-help can lead to disappointment, in particular if you spend time day-dreaming about what is probably an unrealistic achievement. Wiseman advises to concentrate your energy on how you will achieve your particular goal.

Don't let yourself be conned

Business myths

Self help or self delusion? Be on your guard!

One important distinction between the con man or con woman and some self-help gurus is that the con artists know they are deceiving you. Some self-help gurus are deceiving themselves and may well be sincere in their attempt to help their clients or customers.

Don't underestimate the placebo effect.The pill makes you fee better because the act of taking the pill changes your expectations.  You think you are going feel better and before long you actually are.

Dan Ariely tells a very amusing story about Airborne in "Predictably Irrational". He was understandably distraught when his placebo was taken away from him.

Another "myth buster" is Stephen Briers in his post "Top 5 myths of self-help", where he dissects the worst clichés of the Me Generation.

Words of Wisdom from the man himself

The first point is to review all advice in a critical way and this does include advice from me!

Having a postive self-image and feeling confident are important. We all have our rituals that make us feel better and they are effective becuase we believe in them.  This does not mean that these rituals have any instrinsic merit and what works for one person may not work for another.

Be on your guard if you hear someone making extravagant claims, in particular if they are part of a sales pitch.  Forewarned is forearmed!

What Business Myths have you encountered?

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Simon Fawkes CaricatureSimon Fawkes
Accredited Mindshop Facilitator
Business to Markets Ltd