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Kary Oberbrunner: "Funny how much these myths shape our ideology and direct our actions, many times even indirectly."

What annoys you?

Fingernails scratching on the chalkboard? Soup served cold when you’re famished? Important cell phone calls dropped?

Did I get your number yet?

Maybe for you it’s not one of these, but rather an empty toilet paper roll when you’re in desperate need of some? Or the feeling you get when someone just stole your parking spot and you’re running late?

Do any of these raise your stress level?

For me, none of these compare to my biggest stressor: being stuck. I hate being stuck, because stuck stinks! Stuck is slow death and chronic pain.

Not only do I detest it, but I also loathe when other people are stuck. The only difference between being stuck in a rut and stuck in a grave is six feet. I like to see potential flowing smooth and free, unlocked and unleashed. I like to imagine the possibilities and taste the variety of options because I’m fueled by progress and adrenalized by production.

But I know the opposite too. I know plenty of people who are stuck. And I’ve not only seen the other side; regrettably, I’ve taken up residence there in times past. I’ve camped in its courtyards and made my bed in its brokenness, most nights unconsciously. I don’t think any of us willingly choose to be stuck. I believe we slip into it rather unintentionally. Given a little time, though, we become full-fledged residents. This doesn’t excuse our condition; it only explains it.

I’ve discovered that many of us cling to seven myths that keep us stuck.

I bet people taught you the same warmed-over clichés they taught me. See if you can finish these statements:

1.    No Pain, no ______.

2.    Winners never quit, and quitters never___.

3.    If you can dream it, you can do ______.

4.    No guts, no ________.

5.    The early bird gets the _________.

6.    It’s not what you know, it’s who you ____.

7.    Be at the right place at the right _______.

Funny how much these myths shape our ideology and direct our actions, many times even indirectly. Although a tiny nugget of truth might reside within each phrase, breaking them down reveals some interesting false assumptions.

Kary Oberbrunner Kary Oberbrunner serves the business and non-profit community as a speaker and coach. The author of several books, Kary also serves as a founding partner on the John Maxwell Team. He and his wife Kelly are blessed with 3 amazing children

More from Kary Oberbrunner or visit Kary at

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  • Ann Chan

    Great article! Just ONE feedback. It might be overstating the case to call them MYTHS, as there is at least some TRUTH in them to address a particular context. In wisdom literature – particularly in proverbs or aphorisms – the pertinent context determines the pertinent point.

    In presenting the other side of the coin (to address the needs of another life situation) it is perhaps unwise, if not unnecessary, to dismiss these sayings as “myths”. Perhaps it’s not an either-or but a both-and situation… depending on the context.

    In life, we need the balance of both. Like “no pain, no gain” is a meaningfully TRUE statement from a coach to encourage more effort from a slacker BUT to an over-enthusiastic, self-punishing person “no pain, no gain” is not merely redundant, someone must tell the poor soul that “pain alone doesn’t produce results! Cut the carbs! Otherwise, you can take on all the PAIN in exercising… but still GAIN!” : )


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