If you grew up in the 80’s or earlier decades, you probably had parents and grandparents that recited English proverbs and superstitions several times a week. They believed these were guidelines that made us good, responsible people. While implanted in our brains by our well-intentioned elders, many of them could be subconsciously sabotaging your success. There are many proverbs that are optimistic, while others appear to be written by pessimists whose glass is half empty as is the level of success and happiness they attain. Other proverbs are outright counterintuitive, at least by today’s societal mores, and deserve a humorous refutation. You may think these don’t affect you but they may have quietly contributed to your programming such as how you feel about money and success. Here are 14 proverbs that, though repeated through the generations, hold water about as well as a bucket with a hole in the bottom, as my Nana would say.
No. The bird that hunts the worm where the worm hangs out, gets the worm. I’m pretty sure the time of day matters less than the sheer hunger-driven determination of the hunter. The tenacious bird gets the worm and every other goal he wants to achieve.
2. Money is the root of all evil.
No. Evil people are the root of all evil. Money pays your bills, pays your employees, supports you in your retirement and if you’re lucky lets you travel and shop a little. If you’re a good person without money, you’ll be a good person with money.
3. Good things come to those who wait.
Double no. Good things come to those who go out and make good things happen. Good things come to those who believe that good things will come to them, invite good things in and then do the work. I’m pretty sure those who are waiting for good things to come are still doing just that…waiting.
4. Patience is a virtue.
No. Compassion, empathy, kindness and self-control are virtues. Tenacity is a virtue. Patience is more like hope or a wish that something will change. You can be patient or you can take action and make things happen.
5. A penny saved is a penny earned.
No. Unless you have a trust fund or some other unlimited cash donor, you are earning all your pennies, saved, spent or otherwise. Saving, investing and donating some of your earned pennies, makes you wise, conscientious and eventually wealthy.
6. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
No. Jack is undoubtedly either a CEO or an entrepreneur trying to grow a successful business, so days off and play are a luxury he can’t afford. Jack will “officially” retire at 55 instead of 65 and have 24 hours a day to play while he is still fairly young.
7. All good things must come to an end.
No. Eventually all things come to an end, good or bad. Why should we focus on only good things coming to an end? This violates the first rule of optimism which is to focus on the good in life. Optimism is a contributor to happiness. Happiness is key factor in success. If something good ends, it is because the successful person has undoubtedly replaced it something even better.
8. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
No. If they’re doing something you really want to do, then you join them; beating them is irrelevant. And, with anything you feel passionate about, you can always beat “them” if you work harder than everyone else and persevere like your life depends on it. Successful people spend time with those who are where they want to be, not where they were before.
9. You can’t judge a book by its cover.
No. People do judge everything by its cover so consider that when you dress strictly for comfort or throw any old website online for your business. If this proverb were true, there wouldn’t also be a saying that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Work harder and smarter to convey on the outside what you have on the inside. Don’t count on changing someone’s mind about you, your book or your business after the first glance. Design a “cover” that dazzles and speaks to your inner truth and desire for success.
10. Familiarity breeds contempt.
No. Negativity and jealousy breed contempt. Familiarity breeds acceptance. Familiarity breeds expertise; the more familiar you become with a given subject the more you know and can teach. Familiarity breeds success.
11. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
No. Do count your chickens before they hatch. It’s called a plan. First decide that you need and want chickens because they will help you achieve your goal. Determine how many eggs you will buy, knowing that a certain percentage will not hatch. Then do everything necessary to get them to hatch. Know what day they will hatch. Focus on achieving the goal. A goal, a success plan, action and tenacity are how every dream is achieved.
12. Don’t be a jack of all trades and master of none.
No. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’d better be a jack of all trades because your success will depend on it. You can’t just know the stuff you’re a master at and expect other people to do the rest. You need to know all the parts of your business, even if someone else is doing them. If you’re not an entrepreneur, succeeding in life, also requires you to be a jack of all trades. I think they call it well-rounded.
13. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
No. If you feel like you have to do it yourself in order for it to be done right, one of four things is happening. You either have trust issues, issues delegating, you’re a narcissist or you aren’t hiring the right people. For one, two and three, get help. Hire a business coach or a therapist. For issue four, broaden your search, reconsider your criteria or possibly use an outside company to help you find amazing, just-right-for-the-job people.
14. Better safe than sorry.
No. This is true for no one in high positions, no successful entrepreneurs, no one earning above average returns on their invested dollars, and no one who truly enjoys life. The joie de vivre suggests grabbing life by the man parts. Live life, experience the world, go on adventures and for Heaven’s sake don’t play it safe. There are no mistakes.