Are success stories doing us more harm than good?

People with impostor syndrome devalue their own set of skills. Image taken from -
People with impostor syndrome devalue their own set of skills. Image taken from -

Authority marketing strategy coach

There are many stories of successful people in the world and as a result tons of “how to” books and guides have filled the marketplace.

I realised that all I was seeing was one side of all the stories told. I found out a lot about everything that worked, yet there was little shared regarding what didn’t work.

This one thing contributes to those reading success stories to feel "less than" and incompetent when they fail. We are not taught how to deal with failure and making mistakes, and while reading the stories of others, we forget that they might have dealt with failure and probably are still dealing with failing.

As Tim Ferris said in his book ‘Tribe of Mentors’:

“The superheroes you have in your mind (idols, icons, elite athletes, billionaires etc.) are nearly all walking flaws who have maximised one or two strengths. Humans are imperfect creatures. You don’t “succeed” because you have no weaknesses; you succeed because you find your uniqueness and focus on developing habits around them. Everyone is fighting a battle (and has fought battles) you know nothing about. Everyone struggles.”

When the idea for Tribe of Mentors surfaced, Tim was at a crossroads in his life. He wasn’t sure whether the goals he had on the table were in fact his goals or those he thought he should want?

One morning he wrote this question in his journal: “What would this look like if it were easy?” and the answer came… “What if I assembled a tribe of mentors to help me?”

We have no tribe of mentors so to speak all in one place, here in Trinidad and Tobago and there are many unsung heroes or hidden gems that we can certainly learn from but know nothing about.

And so I asked myself: “What if I embarked on a journey of finding those gems, some known, many unknown, and telling their story?”

I started putting together a list based on my own observations, where I saw, through social media posts and sometimes YouTube videos, or read about, people doing work that seemed to fulfil them, bringing them both joy and pleasure and showing an amazing potential for growth.

My goal is to help entrepreneurs, sales and service professionals "be seen" for the great work that they are doing. The greatest threat to any business is obscurity. As Darren Cabral says in his podcast description from Obscurity to Authority, “No matter how great your idea, your vision, and your intentions, you can’t help anyone if nobody knows you exist.”

I know for sure after this research that impostor syndrome and self-doubt have played a part in preventing me from pursuing what I felt in my heart to be true for me.

I started wondering, if there were others like me, suffering from self-doubt and impostor syndrome?

This led to discovery of research by Marina Ramirez-Alvarado, Mayo Clinic and Dwight P Wynne, California State University, Fullerton, who explored the problem of imposter syndrome in a three part series titled Impostor Syndrome: The Dilemma between Who We Are and Who We Are Perceived to Be.

They said that people with impostor syndrome devalue their own set of skills. But equally insidiously, they also tend to define unrealistic goals as the benchmark for “success.” In other words, impostor syndrome is a nasty feedback loop of insecurity and perfectionism. I love this definition of perfectionism by Rich Schefren: “…it is trying to fool the world into believing something about yourself that currently, you don’t believe about yourself.”

Ramirez-Alvarado and Wynne suggest that we must be honest with ourselves: are we pursuing a particular career because of someone else (a parent, friend, mentor or even ourselves from five years ago)?

I hope that sharing these stories will do a couple of things:

• Show the personal side to any journey – why we do what we do, how we discovered our giftedness, what drives us, and how we’re choosing to learn and grow not just about the work we are doing

• Present a diversity of identities, showing that there is no one size fits all journey; that there is no one path to success

• Highlight the frustrations and joys of others, so readers will easily recognise that they’re not the only ones feeling a particular way and that they are not the only ones making mistakes, hitting walls and unable to see what might be holding them back. This can positively affect how people can more accurately calibrate their abilities relative to other professionals.

In Abundance Book by John Randolph Price he shares this important truth: "If you feel your life is empty and useless, that your work is insignificant, or that the things that are yours to do are really meaningless, then you will be pressing out of universal substance an income directly related to that consciousness: insignificant, trivial, useless and valueless."

My belief is that if we all did the work that was ours to do, then TT would be a much better place.

I look forward to discovering and telling stories and encouraging anyone reading not to dwell on limitation or insufficiency but to rise to their truth – that they are strong, vibrant, useful, significant, valuable, worthwhile, meaningful, loving and fulfilled individuals.

If you know of someone who should be interviewed or would like to be interviewed send an email to


"Are success stories doing us more harm than good?"

More in this section