Ozan Varol wrote these words about myths:
We’re eager to believe myths in part because they appeal to our emotions. Given a story and a mountain of data, the story prevails. Stories resonate. Stories sell. These mentally vivid images strike a deep, lasting chord, known as the narrative fallacy. We remember what so-and-so told us about how his male-pattern baldness was caused by too much time in the sun. We fall for the story, throwing logic and skepticism to the wind. . .
Myths persist also because they fill the gaps in our understanding. They create order out of chaos, clarity out of complexity, and a cause-and-effect relationship out of blind luck. Your child exhibits signs of autism? Blame it on that vaccine he got two weeks ago. You spotted a human face on Mars? Obviously the elaborate work of an ancient civilization that, coincidentally, also helped the Egyptians build the pyramids of Giza.
What I am most interested in are the myths we tend to create about ourselves. Because those myths often:
- Hold us back
- Act as excuses for inaction
- Delude us into an alley or a series of closed doors
Among the words defining a myth are these: “A story . . .with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation” and “an invented story, idea or concept”. We enjoy stories. They bring order sometimes. They feel like they “explain” things to us. They appeal to our emotions. But creating your own myths that limit your career are a horror story. They may not be based on facts. That may be invented to justify a situation
Myths in Careers
“I am a specific job title” (insert a job title like banker, project manager, programmer). Those are simply job titles you hold or held. Many people “end up” in a job that they never really consciously decided they wanted to be in, but the pay and benefits were good (at the time). Just because you spent a lot of time doing a particular job does not mean that is who you are.
We all suffer from the “I could never do” and the “I am not good at” myths. Confession: I always say “I am not a good salesperson”. Well, guess what. I have my own business. If I cannot “sell” myself, I have no business! So I might not be a good conventional salesperson, but I need to sell. Perpetuating the self-created myth that “I cannot” does me know good. It inhibits my progress. It’s the same as the person who says, “I could never change jobs”. Why not?
Another common one is the myth about our circumstances. We can point to our current situation make it like a stake in the ground that a leash it tied to. We can only go as far as the leash (or our myth) allows us. That may be true, but who decided where the stake is and how long the leash is?
One more myth is “the expert knows best, I should not question them”. It may be true that someone knows something more about a subject than you do. In general. But they might not know all of the circumstances specific to you. Ever looked at the statistics about how accurate people are in predicting events? Not very good. If the “expert”, the hiring manager or the HR person, did not select you for a job, you create a myth that you must not be qualified or worthy. Acquiescence or “giving in” to an expert only holds you back. Perhaps the expert created their own myth about you!
I like what Varzol had to say about recognizing and overcoming these myths:
The search for certainty over uncertainty, the preference for stories over data, these are human tendencies that help us make sense of the world. But they also lead us astray. The antidote is also human: tapping into our ability to question and doubt everything from emotional appeals to confident political claims. It’s only through the relentless exercise of our critical-thinking muscles that myths and misinformation can be exposed for what they are.
I cannot say it any better. Consider the source of your myths – you! Be analytical and critical. If you need some help, enlist a friend or a coach to be your myth buster.
To read Varzol’s entire post, go here https://ozanvarol.com/how-myths-spread/