3 Common Workplace Myths That Will Sideline your Success

There are several career-damaging falsehoods that exist in today’s modern workplace. It’s time to debunk some myths. Read on.

Should you allow yourself to subscribe to the following three workplace falsehoods, you might find yourself doing the same thing you’re currently doing – twenty years down the road – and for the same pay!

Office worker on the job

Myth #1: Do your job well and to the best of your ability, and you’ll get there some day.

Ah, this one sounds so true, how could it possibly fail you if applied conscientiously on a daily basis? Actually, it’s failed so many countless people throughout history; there’s just no way to quantify how utterly untrue it is for the majority. How many actually find there way there? Or to put in another way how many truly realize their true ambitions in life?

Answer: around 1 percent (read more).

Not only do you have to strive to do your job better than the rest, but you also have to find a way to rise above those standing in front – and waiting in the wings behind you too. You have to do more than what your standard company-issue job description says you have to.

Doing your best likely won’t be enough. You need to do it smart, outside the box. Let me explain.

Gary Vaynerchuk (the entrepreneur, investor and social media guru), in his short speech to NY Creative Interns, says that for the first 3-5 years of their career, they need to focus on what they want to do for the rest of their life. Why? Because he has met so many people aged 60, 70, and 80 years old telling him that they regret working for a company or taking the journey for a career that they actually don’t want to be in.

So, let Mr. Vaynerchuk debunks the myth: Instead of doing your job well and to the best of your ability, you should work hard for the career that you really want, so that you have no regret in your 30-ish years of career – regardless of what there means to you.

Myth #2: Avoid the office drama and stay on task.

Replace the word “drama” with the phrase “politics” and you have a really bad piece of advice that needs to be used with extreme care. The big problem with this myth and its use are that those who employ it put themselves precariously outside the group.

Think I’m talking apples and oranges here? Not at all. Office politics is very important to your ultimate success. At least, if getting a promotion ever in your career is one of the ways you define career success.

Politics is all about relationships:

  • “Don’t bother Jim, the manager, when you see him talking on the phone – or else!”
  • “The owner, Mary, is crabby until she starts on her second cup of coffee – beware!”
  • “Jen and Sam don’t like each other – put them on a project together and you might as well do it yourself.”

And they (office politics/drama) can change and update constantly.

  • “A big contract was lost yesterday because Jim was on the phone all day and Jen wasn’t able to ask permission to give the contractors the go-ahead they needed to lay the foundation for the condo project – he now says to interrupt him no matter what he’s doing when you have a question or concern about anything.”
  • “Mary has been off of coffee for a week now – she’s never been nicer!”
  • Jen and Sam are dating now – they’re now inseparable and love spending as much time as possible together.”

Imagine the fallout if the boss at your new job brings a box of donuts for himself every morning and puts them in the fridge cause he likes them cold: You come along on your first day and assume they’re for everyone and scarf down two of them before you start working, even though everyone knows those sugary treats are off-limits. How will you neglecting to know that particular unwritten rule in the office affects the boss’s impression of you down the line?

Say no

Myth #3: “No” is not an option – say “YES” to everything

There are some instances where saying “yes” even though you really want to say “no” is a great idea. However, in the workplace, saying yes to everything not only makes you the office sucker, but it also leads you down the road to overwork, increased stress levels, poor sleep quality, and yes – being wholly underpaid for your output.

Here’s the thing: Taking on every challenge put before you also leave you with less time to put your focus on the things that matter most to your success in the organization.

Things like that online company management training course that you should be doing in your downtime. Or taking breaks at the same time as the boss, so you can prod them for information about how to do your job more efficiently and better meet their standards – or to perhaps be the only one in the office brave enough to console them after their hairy divorce, thus winning their undying loyalty and a future of success with the company.

Most important, taking on everything and being a “Yes Man” leads to what Jesse Sostrin, author of “The Manager’s Dilemma” refers to as your “diluted contribution” to the company. Sostrin, a management expert, tells us that when we allow ourselves to be pushed and pulled in multiple directions, the negative impact on our career becomes two-fold:

  1. Not everything you’ll be called upon to do will be something you’re necessarily good at, diminishing the overall impact your efforts have as a benefit to the company.
  2. Management will have just as hard a time keeping up with what you actually do as you do, making much of what you accomplish go unnoticed when it comes time for a promotion.

So, learn how to say no. It’s healthy for your career.

Share your thoughts

Do you agree or disagree that the three myths mentioned above actually lead to more career distress than success? Leave a comment and let everyone know your own experiences and what they’ve taught you.