11 Success Myths that are Making You Insecure

From overnight success to imposter syndrome, explore the 11 misconceptions and success myths that fuel insecurity or jealousy at work.

We now live in a world where every skill is easy to attain through free online courses, and every resource seems within reach, thanks to social media and countless networking opportunities. And while this makes it seem that everyone can be successful, it also makes it seem that everyone is successful.

Open LinkedIn and you see that everyone is a CEO or VP; open Instagram and it seems that everyone is an entrepreneur or has a small side business. Today’s multi-millionaires are younger than us, and billionaire is the new millionaire. It seems that while you’re working your ass off, success seems farther than ever before.

Busting Common Success Myths

Everyone seems to be more “successful” than you and everyone makes success look easy. But are they? And if so, why am I not? Do you question this again and again? Does peer pressure on social media and in the news give you existential crisis everyday?

Well, you’re not alone. And while I’m no expert on success, I’ve gained considerable knowledge on entrepreneurship and ‘fake it till you make it’ in my nine years of running this business. So I’m here to bust some success myths that have become very common in today’s post-social-media world.

1. Overnight Success

Myth #1: Success comes quickly and easily for some people.


This misbelief can lead to feelings of inadequacy. It may sometimes feel that your journey is not as smooth or rapid as others’.

The thing to remember is that media success stories only glamorize and focus on the high points. Behind every success journey, there are countless years of relentless hard work, depressing failures and on-and-off periods of darkness when it seems you’ll never get there. That’s never covered in the news, and no one talks about it.

So don’t give up even if it seems like you’ve been trying forever. But you also need the right direction, otherwise years of work can lead to nowhere.

2. Comparison to Others

Myth #2: Success is measured against others’ achievements.


Constantly comparing oneself to others who seem more successful can fuel jealousy. This is especially more pronounced when you compare yourself to people around you, like your parents, siblings, ex-classmates or colleagues.

This feeling of jealousy is totally normal, and with it comes a need to control your own outcome to match or surpass others. But that doesn’t mean you need this feeling. What you actually need is a calm mindset so you can focus on your own work, and your own journey.

Jealousy will get you nowhere. Actual work will. And you can only focus on work when you’re not thinking about others.

3. External Validation

Myth #3: Successful people are admired and respected by everyone.


Relying on external recognition and validation as the sole measure of success can make you insecure about your abilities. This is one of the most common reasons for feeling depressed about work – seeking constant approval from others.

Just like you most commonly compare your success with people you actually know, you seek validation from those you actually know and respect. This could be your boss, your parents, friends or family. However, for most successful people, there’s no glittering moment when everyone starts to admire you, and when magazines interview you or you’re magically famous.

Remember, not everyone will respect or like your work, no matter how good it is. It’s neither possible nor necessary to please everyone. That doesn’t mean you start hating or cutting off with people who disagree with your work. It just means you have to sometimes ignore an opinion.

Ignoring the opinion of those you respect is not easy. Especially if it’s someone you think is an industry expert, has good taste or experienced in your field. Also, oftentimes, people in our lives are very vocal about their opinions, especially the negative opinions.

It takes a lot of courage to trust your own opinion over theirs. It takes practice and self-confidence, and you’ll get there one day, even if you can’t ignore them today.

4. Singular Definition of Success

Myth #4: Success is defined by a specific outcome, for example, fame or wealth.

Everyone has a different definition of success, but fame and wealth are the most common. In a survey I did on LinkedIn in 2022, most of my followers answered that money is their key factor in defining success. Similarly, money was voted as the most common thing that my classmates valued when choosing their career in a survey my teacher did when I was in high school (yes, I remember clearly, because I was torn between choosing money and fulfillment, but finally voted for the latter).

Whatever your definition may be, it is clear from the above experiences that you form this definition in childhood, so it’s difficult to accept otherwise when you’re older. However, it’s important to keep questioning yourself from time to time what you’re working towards, so that your other achievements and motives are clear to you, even if they aren’t to others.

5. Fear of Failure

Myth #5: Failure is an indication that you won’t be successful.


A fear of failure can lead you to feel inadequate, creating a sense of insecurity and jealousy towards those who seem more accomplished. This is arguably the most common reason why people actually fail. They don’t even try sometimes.

During one conversation about college admissions, all my friends from Harvard agreed that we were embarrassed to tell others we were applying to Harvard, as we thought ourselves as average students with no chances of getting in. One of my friends told me that when she went to get a recommendation letter from her professor, he was very happy that she was applying as, “Most people don’t get in because they simply don’t apply.

When I started my business, I was giving up the opportunities to get a plush job and the security of a fixed monthly income. So I told myself that I’ll try the path of entrepreneurship for six months. If at the end of this period, I felt that my business had potential, I’d continue it, otherwise it’ll be back to job-town. The only condition was that I’d give it my bestest shot, so that if I failed, I won’t have any regrets, or feelings that if only I had tried harder, I’d have succeeded. And nine years later, I’m still running this business.

Was I afraid of failure? Of course, I was. But what I was more afraid of was that lifelong regret that I didn’t try my best to succeed when I had the chance. It’s all about prioritizing what you’re less afraid of.

6. Perfectionism

Myth #6: Success means that any mistakes are unacceptable.

Perfectionism – good or bad? That is the question. Media often portrays successful people as near-gods who never make mistakes and always take the right decisions. Media also glamorizes perfectionists who are successful.

However, believing that success requires perfection can lead to a fear of being outperformed by others. Striving for perfection can actually stem from a need for validation from those around you. It can slow your work down and constantly doubt your best work, causing you to miss deadlines or lack of focus on the next tasks.

I often see this in my young employees, who often delay submitting their work for review in an effort to make it perfect. The truth is that no matter how long they take and how much perfect they try to make it, it just will never be. There will be someone among our readers who may find their work to be flawed. So instead, I advise them to strive for excellence, not perfection.

7. Fixed Mindset

Myth #7: Successful people have certain talents and abilities that everyone cannot develop.

Many people believe that abilities are inherent and unchangeable, and that successful people are born with those. This can make you not only jealous of others’ talents but also drive you to avoid dreaming big or trying new things.

We grow throughout our lives and can acquire skills we once feared! Sometimes, we even find some skills interesting we previously thought boring, or even find them useless over time.

In our journey of success, we need to sometimes just do those boring things, or try those difficult things. Everyone does.

8. Imposter Syndrome

Myth #8: You don’t have it in you to be successful. Real success is just for others.


Feeling like a fraud despite accomplishments can cause you to be insecure and strive to hide your perceived inadequacies.

It’s really important to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses at work, even if you don’t show them. On the road to success, one needs to go for things you don’t even think are probable. If you feel like you don’t deserve success, or that your accomplishments were all just fluke, you’ll find it very difficult to take risks and try new things.

9. Social Media Comparison

Myth #9: Social media accurately represents reality and is an objective measure of success.


Constantly comparing oneself to curated images of success on social media can lead to feelings of jealousy and a need to control one’s online image. This not only makes you feel inadequate but also wastes tons of time trying to represent your success instead of creating it.

10. Support from Others

Myth #10: Success should be achieved independently, without needing support or encouragement from others.


While it’s true that not everyone will encourage you, it’s also true that as a human, you’ll still wish everyone did. Not receiving adequate support and encouragement from others can fuel insecurities and create a compulsive need to prove one’s capabilities.

The best way is just to be near those who support you, and avoid those who don’t. It isn’t always possible to avoid your family, staff or friends, but it’s possible to at least avoid those conversations. And there will always be those who support you, so be thankful for that.

11. The Journey of Success

Myth #11: Success is a smooth road, where more work leads to more success over time.

Ah, I saved the most difficult one for the last. When you start the road towards success, you already make so many difficult decisions – the risk, the lack of support from many people, the reality and loneliness of hard relentless work. You do all this with the hope that over time, you’ll be successful and that’s it. However, that is not always the case.

The road to success is not smooth, or even straight. There’s no guarantee of success just because you put in the work. There’s no one moment you begin to feel successful. There are countless failures along the way when it feels that you’re worse off than when you started, and that you don’t even know what you’re doing or where you’re going. Many times you feel that you should give up, and wonder if you should’ve even started in the first place.

Unfortunately, there are no right or wrong steps here, and no one can really tell you the next step. You’ll just have to decide and use all your skills and strengths to make these decisions.

People only believe in you when you’re already successful in their eyes, or when others validate you. But until then, you just have to believe in yourself.

So, I hope my guide motivated you. Did you believe in any of these myths, and did this article help you bust them? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet @shilpa1ahuja.

All the best!

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