Don’t Be A Lemming

What’s a lemming and why don’t you want to be one? I’m not talking about the little rodent. I’m talking about the metaphor uttered by parents since the dawn of time, “If your friends all jumped off a cliff to their deaths would you do it too?”

At least once a week I see a post on social media purporting to have distilled the secret to success down to the 5, 7, or whatever # of habits of highly successful people. Many of them have the same, or similar items on the list, though the recommendations are never all the same. Some, in fact, are even contradictory! So, who is right? Which list of habits is the right one? The simple answer is- None of them!


There is no one size fits all for success.

One example is a set number of books you must read per month or year. This is one that the numbers vary widely. Yes, it’s important to expand your mind with new information, but how many books you read should not be the standard of measurement for learning. Not everyone CAN learn from books. Some people simply cannot learn by reading or listening. Does this mean they cannot be successful? Of course not. It simply means that their personal and professional development and learning need to come from other sources.

Here’s an even easier one to debunk. If you want to be successful, you have to wake up at 5am. This one is pretty uniformly accepted across the lists on social media. If you do your best work between 8pm and 1am, does it make sense for you to wake up at 5am though? You can achieve the same benefits of uninterrupted work and thinking time as a night owl as you can living like a Lark. You just have to understand when you are at your best. Why fight your natural rhythm? Why not accept it? In fact, why not embrace it?

There’s nothing wrong with you if you’re a Night Owl. We all have different rhythms that we live by. The secret is knowing when you are most productive and designing your schedule with that in mind.

Yes, there is wisdom to be found in some of these lists. The mistake is in taking them literally. What is the purpose of waking up at 5am? Why do successful people read so much? Look at the WHY, not the HOW. Find the best way to achieve the intended result based upon your strengths and life goals. What works for one person, or maybe even most people, may not be the right answer for you.

The Secret is knowing when your are most productive and designing your schedule with that in mind.