There is an old saying that “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” While I’m sure we have all heard that saying, most of us still get caught up in the new theory or gimmick that provides an easy explanation for success.
But the world is much more complicated than that. Yet from a marketing standpoint, most products focus on that easy, simple, quick solution. They emphasize that they found the “new” way that will soon have anybody willing to invest in it, instant success.
This could be in the form of a new Multi-level marketing company (MLM) that focuses on bringing on new salespeople rather than selling a quality product. It could be a new workout product that guarantees instant muscle. It could be a new diet, smoking cessation tool or get rich scheme.
Lately I have been reading a lot of books that take a similar approach. They usually start with a well-known success story, such as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Richard Branson. Then they reduce their success to one principle that everyone else missed, including Steve, Mark or Richard! Suddenly this author figured it all out. Oh and guess what? They have statistics that will prove it.
But the problem with these books is that they are created to sell not to educate. They aren’t interested in their reader gaining insight and are more focused on how to spin something and sell a book.
I remember when Robert Kiyosaki was criticized because he was misleading in his book and oversimplified complex, risky investments. His response was to point out that the best-selling lists were made up of best-selling authors. This isn’t to say that Robert Kiyosaki was wrong or that his books aren’t helpful. But we should all do a little more research before jumping on the latest new thing. We have to realize that most of these authors are trying to sell a book to us.
So when I read a book that pulls in a quote from Steve Jobs to explain that he subconsciously knew what this author was teaching, I am skeptical. It is really easy to take success story and spin it to fit your agenda or theory.
The only thing consistent with most of these success stories is that they all truly did what they had to do in order to succeed. They did the work and overcame the obstacles. They didn’t find the magic shortcut that we all seemed to miss.
Regardless of whom you are and what you want to achieve, realize that the next best-selling book might be oversimplified to sell more copies. It might over-exaggerate the things that align with this author’s theory to make it more entertaining.
But if you dig a little deeper you will usually see that the successful individual worked hard, sacrificed other areas of their life and didn’t just find a shortcut.
Once you realize this, you stop looking for the shortcuts and you start to focus on what you have to do in order to reach a goal. Then you can start to put in place the habits and actions that you need to in order to move closer and closer to success all the while improving as you go. Instead of looking for a shortcut to avoid the work you look for more effective and efficient ways to do the work.