4 Reasons Why the Worst Thing You Can Do Is Read Articles on Success

You know what really pisses me off?

All the “productivity” & “top ten secrets of successful people” articles & videos out there. Now, you might wonder they anger me when I write about these topics.

It’s because they give bad advice based on bad sources. Almost all of these articles fit into one of these categories

Why I Dislike Articles & Videos on Success

It’s churned it out to get views

The creator of the article or video has spent very little time proving these are actually habits that successful people do. Often, they aren’t. And it takes me two seconds to identify this since I’m in this field and actually study successful people.

On top of that, there’s little reference to who these successful people are, or any statistics, data, or studies.

The advice is based on best-selling books & influencers on the topic, which aren’t the best resources

For example, why does everyone cite David Allen’s book "Getting Things Done"? It’s full of opinions & directions with very little evidence.

Let’s take a look at the credibility of the author. David Allen worked as a magician, waiter, karate teacher, landscaper, vitamin distributor, glass-blowing lathe operator, travel agent, gas station manager, U-Haul dealer, moped salesman, restaurant cook, manager of a lawn service company, & manager of a travel agency before the age of 35.

Then, according to CNN, he started a productivity company since he realized there was a lot of demand. Just because it’s a best-selling book doesn’t mean it will produce results for you. Maybe he was just one of the only people to write a book on the subject. Believing so just makes the book even more of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Any advice is anecdotal

This means it’s based on observing one or a few successful people rather than hundreds or thousands & scientifically discovering a commonality. Confirmation bias further causes the author or creator of the video to cherry pick people that support what they believe in without them noticing.

Their definition of a “successful” or “productive” person is broad & vague

It could be someone who has made their first million dollars & has a lot to learn about business, an Asian mother who makes six figures that did really well in school, or it could be a billionaire with marriage issues.

People Are Becoming Aware of the Garbage. You Deserve Better.

What truly angers me is that people are taking this advice. They full-heartedly believe it without a second of doubt. They haven’t even thought to question it.

If you look at some of the comments on these articles, you’ll find that there are people who are talking about implementing this information immediately. Their comments imply that they already believe this is good advice for them: “I am working on step 4 that you mentioned. It’s a bit tough..blah, blah, blah.”

But you deserve better!

For centuries, people have taken bad advice & run with it. People get horrible dating advice from their relatives & close friends like “if you become an engineer, every girl will like you” & they run with it, only to discover years later that it didn’t work.   

Then, came the Internet. The people who released advice on a topic first online were the ones who go the traffic & made the money. David DeAngelo is well regarded as one of the first dating (& most respected) advice coaches online.

But I’ve watched interviews about him & he has said a few times that he wasn’t that great with dating; he was just the first to release advice online.

You deserve better!

My point is not to witch hunt or spread negativity about these people. They could be as great as they seem.

But they might not be. I just want clear evidence & results to prove it… & I just don’t see it. Therefore, I’d err on the side of caution.

Featured on The Essential Life

How I Navigate Through All the Noise

When I see one of thousands of articles on the topic, I do a quick check on a few criteria, then close the article without taking any of the advice if they don’t meet at least one of these:

  • Credibility of the author
  • Thorough, non-biased, non-anecdotal evidence
  • Impressive, non-hyped, real results achieved by many people

Usually, they don’t have any. It’s just instructions.

“You should have a morning routine. You should use folders. You should meditate.” Then, it’s very easy for me. I close the article from my browser.

We live in a world of information overload. There’s more to read than we ever have time for. It’s more about filtering & deciding what to consume versus trying to get as much as you can.

Go straight to the top

Let’s stop being vague or broad with what we want. You have the privilege to be more specific so you should. You know who I go to for productivity advice? People like Warren Buffett who make billions of dollars & yet still has time to play Bridge for an hour a day. Not a productivity consultant.

Warren Buffett says he keeps his calendar very simple. Like other billionaires like John Paul DeJoria, he doesn’t use email. What is everyone online doing? Using their 16th productivity app, buying essential oils, & juggling another productivity calendar extension. Essentially running around with their heads cut off chasing a magic pill.

In fact, I avoid all the most productivity articles out there like the plague. They ruin my productivity.

Be more specific in what you want and learn from the best. If I want to be the best basketball coach, I read the book written by the best coach of all time, Coach Wooden’s "Pyramid of Success". If I want to be a better discount retail distributor, I read the book by the best businessman of all time in that space "Made in America" because he went from zero to billions. If I want to make it as an entertainer in the music industry or be a great music executive, I read the book "Sing to Me" by L.A. Reid, a music exec who has discovered more stars than possibly anyone ever to exist.

Let’s stop settling for generic advice that will lead you in the wrong direction. You can and you should.

The Essential Life Contributor

About The Author - Will Chou

Will has spent thousands of hours studying the world's most successful people, especially billionaires.

He has poured over countless books & interviews to become THE go-to expert on billionaires & how they achieve peak performance and business success. He blogs on his personal site.