Common beliefs that turned out to be untrue for me – at least partially

When you read a lot of books or watch a lot of videos about leadership and success, you probably find some pieces of advice that are repeated over and over again. The may sound logical. Unfortunately for me, they have not brought the promised rewards. Some were even counterproductive. To be clear: This is just my personal experience. I do not claim general validity.

Rest will bring you energy and creativity

In short – it did not. In fact I got used to the idleness more and more and with that the energy levels kept dropping. Forcing myself to work was the only thing that raised my energy again. Same with creativity. I did not have any more good ideas while resting. Nor did they come after the rest. The best ideas always came when I was fully immersed in the work, regardless of the amount of resting I had done.

If you work too much, you’ll burn out

I have experienced being overwhelmed with work. However, I have not experienced any change in my mood with regards to my workload. I have a relatively low base level of mood, but it did not raise anyhow by working less. In fact it stayed pretty much the same.

Apply the pareto-principle to increase your effectiveness

I have never been in any situation where I really was able to apply the pareto-principle. Most of the time the things I did had to be done anyway and could not be omitted. Not doing them would have caused either major problems or would have led to project failure. While of course I have spent time on activities that did not bring the expected result, this was only apparent in hindsight and I could not identify any patterns.

Save time by automation

To be clear: I’m talking about automation in the software industry, not in the manufacturing industry. It is true that some automation has brought benefits. However, the investment was usually huge and risky and came with loads of problems. And while some automation endeavours paid off, others did not and I regret spending so much time on them. I’ve learned that I should be really careful about what to automate. With that said, in general automation can be a good thing and should be strived for. But don’t fall for the fallacy that it is always a good idea.

Surround yourself with people that are better than you

I’ve found that you usually gravitate to people who are about as good as you. Maybe slightly better or slightly worse. Having access to people who are way ahead in skills and success was not possible for me yet. Usually they are not interested in you, because… why should they even bother? Unless you have something that is really attractive for them (and that is not easy to pull off), they normally will reject you. And even if you manage to contact people who are way better, it is still far from guaranteed that it will bring you much benefit.

Utilize compounding effects

After many years, I’m still waiting for all my investments (be it financial, educational or otherwise) to show any form of notable compounding. I don’t say that the investments were necessarily bad. My education has had a good effect on my income. I also have earned some money by investing in the stock market and I’ve had some productivity benefits from certain automation projects. However, I’ve never seen any compounding, despite heavy reinvesting. The initial gains stayed more or less the same and the reinvestment of those gains did not bring further benefits.

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