The Poisons to Success

I have long admired many successful people, and I have dreams of becoming like them.

In the process I (and most are) going through now, I have learned that the path has its bright areas and its dark areas.

Today, I took the time to look into the darker zone of this journey and identify some of the elements that I can look at eliminating. Maybe it will make things better.

So, here we go! The poisons to success:

Believing that success is purely material gain

It is okay to be goal-oriented, and it is okay to want money and other material manifestations of one’s work. The reality is, we do need them to survive and to live good.

But when we focus too much on quantifiable values, we tend to ignore other important elements in our success story: the learnings, the pleasant experiences, the people we meet, the things we share, the things we teach others, our effect on others, those tiny moments that make us smile.

Remember that success, more than just a perceived status, is a feeling. It’s an emotional, internal experience. That is not quantifiable.

You will notice this around you. Some rich people or those in top positions may not entirely be happy with where they are. A few things that make them happy: friends, family, faith, experience, simple beauty, affection. Everybody can have those, regardless of economic or professional status.

Self-criticism and lack of self-belief

Most of us come from a society that doesn’t look well on people who believe in themselves. “Masyadong bilib sa sarili” is such a common thought labeling people who have that spark.

I don’t know if the opposite statement of that, “walang bilib sa sarili”, has taken anyone on to higher levels of his being.

I also don’t know if any of those top successful people we all look up to did not believe in what they were capable of doing.

On a more introspective level, many times we have told ourselves, “I can’t do that” or “I’m afraid to do that, so I won’t… just to be safe”. Where has that mindset taken us?

Limiting thoughts

How many times have we heard others or ourselves say,

“Mahirap lang kasi kami…”

“Simpleng tao lang kasi ako…”

“Hindi kasi ako kasing-talino mo…”

“Wala akong pera…”

“Mahirap gawin yan…”

“Imposibleng mangyari yan…”

“Hindi ako bagay sa ganyan…”

…and where did those words take them / us?

Limiting thoughts are just that – – merely ‘thoughts’, fluid and immaterial.

And how many times have we seen people who started dirt poor and penniless (some even with IQ’s lower than, I dunno, the average human body temperature?) but have succeeded in many fields?

What were their thoughts? What were their opportunities? What was their attitude? See next topic.

The “No!” habit

Maybe those successful people just didn’t say NO.

We all have the tendency to decline on opportunities that arise before us because of many factors – – our perceived limits.

Let’s try saying “YES” the next time an opportunity arises, worry about the consequences later, and see what happens. J Many great things start that way, I was told.


Let’s simplify this:

Stress = Problem + Attitude

Changing perceptions can change attitude. A positive attitude changes everything.

Problems will always be there. Solve on now, get a new one tomorrow. Solving it is the process. The attitude part is your program format.

Expecting the worst for fear of disappointment a.k.a. Negative anticipation

This is a very old-world concept. We grew up hearing this. Some of us still hold on to this principle.

It never helps. Instead, it gives you what you expect… the worst. If the best should ever arise, you don’t get to enjoy it to the fullest since your thought foundation wasn’t strong enough to start with.

Why fear disappointment when you think enthusiastically?

That won’t be the last disappointment you will ever experience. It won’t be the last success for you, either. So stick to the positive. Make anticipation pleasant and exciting. It never hurt anybody to be optimistic.


Oh, such a waste of energy. It doesn’t really do anything substantial unless you pro-actively and passionately work on getting what you want instead of just ranting about it.

And that statement you are trying to make? Everybody will forget about it by sundown.

Use that energy, instead, to get something out of the situation. Make yourself happy.

False humility and denial of good

“Ang ganda ng suot mo…”

“Ay, hindi! Ukay-ukay lang ito!”

“Ang galing mo naman..”

“Ang bobo ko nga eh…”

“Asenso ka na. Buti ka pa.”

“Hindi nga eh, mahirap pa rin ako…”

“Ang ganda mo!”

“Aysus, hindi ah!”

It’s easier to simply say “thank you!” – our parents taught us that. False humility and denial of good never makes anyone’s image look better, but being gracious does.

False humility and denial of good are also not the keys to heaven. Just sayin’.

When you are appreciated, commended, or affirmed for something you obviously put some effort on, be grateful and enjoy it. You deserve it. J

Focus on others

There are two aspects to this idea:

  • We sometimes passionately and maliciously speak ill of others… because of envy, the lack of anything better to do, or simply just because… So much wasted energy for something that ruins us instead of builds us. But if we turned that around, and talk about them passionately and positively, admiring their successes and their glories, we give ourselves tiny positive emotional lifts – and that is never a waste of energy as it builds our optimism and our character;
  • We tend to always put others (the ones we love, the ones we work for, or the ones important to us) ahead of us in our priorities. Sounds good, right? At some point, yes.

Remember, though, that if it starts to limit our personal progress or if our self-value and functions start to deteriorate because we put others first all the time, it does more harm than good – not just to us, but to them as well.

Focus on one’s self. Everyone deserves it.

Believing that struggle should always be part of success

I don’t know… Many successful people seem to have success easily and effortlessly, without much struggle. Maybe it’s their attitude and mindset. They seem to be the enthusiastic and optimistic ones.

This brings us to the thought of “Work Hard” versus “Work Passionately” – which one makes the experience more pleasant and worthwhile?

Putting up to too many self-imposed deadlines

This is very common among young professionals. Sometimes, the urge to prove one’s capabilities and self-worth have created a tight time-bound box around them that makes them neglect and miss out on the abundance of those little things that could make their lives happier, richer, and more dynamic.

Once they get to the top, they realize that they missed looking at the spaces between the steps of the ladder they were climbing. Often, it is in these spaces that the beauty of the experience is seen.

Believing that being too happy has its negative consequences

Again, an old-world mindset that strips one of the opportunities to be happy.

This form of negative anticipation not only deprives one of a happy self-realization, but also creates in him an idea that he is undeserving of good. In the end, he realizes that too much thought and energy has been put on the bad things in life than on the good things – while he gets both situations equally in unending cycles.


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