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10 Career Myths that Slow Down Your Progress

Have you wondered why you are not making any progress in developing your career? You may get hindered by obstacles that impede your ability to improve. I have listed ten persistent myths that need awareness, and I hope this sheds some light on why you are not getting any traction.

1. You must meet all the job requirements perfectly.

It is not unusual to find job descriptions with every qualification under the sun. To gain mastery in all the listed requirements, someone needs to invest a significant amount of time. Companies cast out a dragnet to find someone with the most skills. Based on the entire job requirements, these mysterious employees are “purple squirrels” because they do not exist in nature. The message the company sends is it does not know what they require in a future employee, and HR did not work with the hiring manager to determine actual needs.

A programmer created a software package four years ago. He got a good laugh when a company was demanding eight years’ experience with the technology! Linkedin has a group devoted to irrational and poorly written job descriptions. While they bring a laugh, poorly written job postings hurt EVERYONE!

When you meet the minimum qualifications, apply for the job. Let them decide if you have the real skills. Calculate the probability that you could get an interview. If it is low, move on. Your time is too valuable to waste it on low probability opportunities.

On the other hand, reach out to recruiters to see if you can get the inside scoop on the position. They may be able to give you some ideas about what they expect in the candidate. And when you get in touch with a human, you do not run the risk of an applicant tracking system discarding your resume before a human can review anything.

If you never try, you will never know!

2. Follow your passion, and the money will follow.

I am passionate about console gaming, but I will never make money on it. My multiplayer experiences revolve around me dying more than I kill. I help everyone else level up faster because I am the bullet magnet. Nobody will pay money to watch me play unless it is to laugh at my lack of skill or abilities. Based on my abilities as a gamer, I could not support my family. Even if I could provide gaming content, I run the risk of turning my passion into a job and lose the desire for gaming altogether!

Paying your bills and surviving through life is goal number one. Next, look for the jobs that will fund your passion or hobbies until you achieve complete financial freedom.

3. Leaders are born, not made.

Everyone is playing poker in life. Each player holds a set of cards to play. Some people get lucky by starting with a winning hand. Others work harder to convince others they have a winning hand. How you play the game will determine whether you win or lose.  

When it comes to leadership, leaders learned how to work with other people through conflict resolution, negotiation, communication while following a servant-leadership role.  

There are tens of thousands of books on leadership with decades of ideas on how to lead. With the sheer number of books, you will find a book that speaks to you and your situation.   

4. The entrepreneurial path brings freedom.

The reality is not sexy.

People fantasize one day they will go into the office to tell their boss to take their job and shove it. The employee leaves to run their own business, and everything works out perfectly! People dream about working in bed with their pajamas or conducting a virtual meeting at the local coffee shop.  

The entrepreneurial path is fraught with challenges that prevent most people from even trying. Your bread-and-butter customer fires you. You are not able to price your product/services in a manner that is profit-generating. Markets or technologies change that ultimately kills demand for your offering. Revenues dry up, and you must pay your employees.

I am all for people following the entrepreneurial path, but it is far from glamorous! The ultimate reality is path is long, hard, stressful, and has a low chance of working out.

The entrepreneurial path can be equivalent to paying for a job.

You can go through the franchising route for starting a business. You pay the parent company access to their tools, processes, and infrastructure. The franchise assists you in gathering customers with an existing and familiar brand. However, you will forever pay the franchise fees to the parent organization that cuts into your overall profit. With the franchise fee, you are buying a job.  

5. Startups are fun!

Unlimited coffee access and ping pong tables are exciting distractions.

Startups, especially in the Austin Texas tech industry, use ping pong tables, free coffee bars, and video games in breakrooms to entice people to work for them. The belief is that collaboration and communicating with the team in a less formal situation leads to better problem-solving.

Expect startups to demand high performance while under high stress.

Startups may or may not be well funded. That means they will expect you to wear multiple hats because they cannot hire the right number of people for the organization. To add to the various hats, the number of hours expected to work increases. Someone needs to do the work, and your duties as assigned temporarily will become your permanent duties until the company hires someone to fulfill those tasks.

A lack of money challenges your ability to perform at your best.

There may not be any money to solve complex problems correctly. For example, the company has a problem that a software vendor solves, but the software license price is high. The company could easily say, “We would love to do this, but it is not in the budget.” You will either have to use baling wire and chewing gum to solve the problem or accept the situation to work on other issues.  

You can use the constraint to think about using different approaches to solving a problem. If you could not resolve the issue, you run into a situation where you “buy nice or buy twice.” It is not 

6. Earning more money is a great goal to work towards.

Everyone wants to make more money. When it comes to paying bills and living a decent life, people will not accept a low salary. In my experience, I witness too many people wanting a seven-figure income as their definition of success.    

With the tax code, there is a disincentive to earn high incomes!

The tax system is progressive, which means the more you make, the less you take home. Therefore, the tax code punishes you for succeeding! The 2020 tax code charges a single income filer 37% taxes making over $518,400. The Trump administration changed tax law to eliminate many deductions that high-income earners used to reduce their tax burden.  

7. A college degree is the only way to succeed.

Not every job requires a degree that pays well.

Master plumbers, electricians, and mechanics make a good living without a college degree. Once you develop a reputation for greatness, you can open your own business. The US government provides many resources for opening and running a business, which ultimately negates the need for a business degree.

Degrees help build your network faster through mutual connections.

A professor answered a question someone proposed about the quality of education from Ivy League versus State schools. He stated that while Ivy League schools attract guest lecturers, the quality of education is not too dissimilar. He noted that the only real benefit of going to Ivy League schools is it gets you membership to an exclusive club (alumni).  

What you do in life is the most effective determination for success.

In the short term, degrees open the door where a hiring checklist determines who gets a second look for an interview. Over the years, nobody will care that you went to school or what you studied. Nobody asks me about my education, and I never need to say anything about it.  

8. Advancing a career means you need to be a manager

Management should not be the final goal.

Unless you want to manage a team of people, fulfilling careers can happen with strategic career moves. When you look across most people’s job history, you find that where they started is nowhere near where they ended up. You can move vertically/horizontally, change organizations, or change careers.

Not everyone can and should be managers.

Technically competent employees may not have developed the skills for management. Managers use more people skills, including conflict management, communication, negotiation, and resource scheduling than they did as an individual contributor. If a new manager is unwilling to learn new skills, they will suffer and ruin the team’s productivity.

Also, people believe that if they could manage, they would do a better job. What they do not understand is managers are mostly powerless! They have to support their manager and manage their team where both groups have competing needs and priorities. Most people cannot effectively negotiate the two forces.

9. Your manager may not help you grow.

Your manager is too busy.

Managers deal with their team, work, and boss. It is unrealistic for them to take an active role in your development. They can help remove roadblocks for ideas you have for developing your career. Expect to do your leg work to determine where you need to go next. Proactive actions will produce better results!

Your manager does little for their career.

People do not actively manage their careers. And it should be no surprise to see your manager is not actively managing theirs either.     

Your manager cannot help you at the expense of their goals.

Everyone has performance objectives to meet. If your job is challenging to fill because nobody is willing to do it, do not expect your manager to help you get a better job. Even worse, your manager could sabotage your efforts and trap you in a role! A busy manager does not want to see you leave when they must backfill your job and train the next person.  

10. You can be whatever you want.

Not everyone has the natural talent to do specific jobs.  

Data science and analytics are hot today! Everyone wants to get a piece of the action. If you do not have the natural talent for analytics, it is a tough road to travel. For example, a successful analytical person is curious and gravitates toward finding patterns. Matching your job with your skills/experience with your natural talent will make your work feel more familiar. On the other hand, lacking natural ability leads to feeling lost and working much harder to succeed as you work against your brain’s wiring.

We want and need talent diversity.

If everyone got into analytics, your team lacks the different perspective that someone in the knowledge domain can provide. Talent diversity is critical for asking great questions! Without significant inquiries, the team has no direction to follow. Furthermore, the lack of diverse thought will lead to groupthink, or everyone argues about the best algorithm to apply to the data set.


Thank you for reading! I hope that I opened your eyes to some of the lesser-known myths that hold people back in developing their careers. With awareness of some of these myths, you will accelerate your growth and performance in your career development!  

What is the myth you contend hold people back?

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