The Malady of Misinformation


Relying on bad information can be costly and can take you far off course. Sadly, many leaders have been given faulty information about the nature of success.

“Turn left,” chirped the automated voice of the GPS, but the driver took a right turn instead. In fact, Donna Cooper had stopped listening to the device hours ago. Following the directions of the GPS was precisely what had caused Donna, her daughter, Gina, and their friend, Jenny, to become lost in the first place. Now, the travelers found themselves on an unmarked dirt road somewhere in the middle of Death Valley without any sign of human habitation in sight. Their cell phones had long been without signal in the 3,000 square-mile Mojave Desert.

The July heat was oppressive, even within the climate-controlled car. After all, Death Valley boasts the hottest recorded temperature in human history—134 °F (56.7 °C). What’s more, the ladies had run out of drinking water, and their vehicle soon stalled, its gas tank empty. They desperately needed to find a way back to the civilized world—and fast.

Night fell, and the ladies were forced to sleep in the car. The next day they hiked off-road two miles toward a green patch of vegetation where they found only abandoned trailers and some dirty well water. As another day drew to a close, the ladies faced the grim prospect of not making it out of Death Valley alive.

By their third day in the desert, the ladies’ families had alerted authorities of their disappearance. A chopper was dispatched to look for the trio. Thankfully, after a six-hour search, the pilots spotted the ladies and were able to rescue them. Their ordeal has become a cautionary tale for motorists, who often put blindly trust a GPS to guide them to their desired destination.


Relying on bad information can be costly and take you far off course. Sadly, many leaders have been given a faulty idea about the nature of success. Accordingly, they’re not on track to maximize their influence. Let’s take a moment to look at some common falsehoods along with refutations of them.

Falsehood #1: Success comes from being in the right place at the right time.

Success comes from being the right person in the right place. Lots of people find themselves in advantageous circumstances at a propitious moment, and yet still do not succeed. On the other hand, excellent workers eventually get noticed and entrusted with greater influence.

Falsehood #2: Success is not within the reach of the average person.

Most people shortchange themselves when it comes to success. They do not think that they possess enough talent or brilliance to be great. I firmly believe success is within reach of everyone. Success involves 1) knowing you purpose in life, 2) growing to your maximum potential, and 3) sowing seeds that benefit others. None of those activities requires having an IQ in the 99th percentile or being blessed with inborn leadership traits.

Falsehood #3: Success looks pretty much the same for everybody.

Since people have different purposes and dissimilar potentials, success takes shape uniquely for each person. Comparison is the thief of joy. Stop measuring yourself against others and pay closer attention to the God-given beauty and brilliance inside of you.

Falsehood #4: Success will be greeted by the approval of those around you.

Unfortunately, Bette Midler spoke truthfully when she commented that “the worst part of success is trying to find someone who is happy for you.” Your success incriminates those who are wasting their time and talents, and they may be resentful of you as a result. The true test of relationships is not only how loyal someone is when we fail, but how thrilled they are when we succeed.

Thought to Ponder

Is success really for everyone? Or, are some people destined to stand out and others to blend into the crowd?


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