Why I Hate the Phrase "Success Leaves Clues"

blog Aug 17, 2021

Have you heard the phrase “Success Leaves Clues”? I have a love-hate relationship with it. 

About 6 or 7 years ago I launched a network marketing business when someone introduced this quote to me:

“Success Leaves Clues”

Leaders were encouraging people to look at what specific leaders in the company were doing so we could model them and therefore, have the same success.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it? 

It isn’t.  Success doesn’t always leave clues at all! 

After months and months of trying to emulating “success”, I woke up one day realizing I felt like a big failure.  I was doing, “all the things” that I was being encouraged, coached, directed to do under the umbrella of “success leaves clues.” However, I was not seeing the same results.  

I ended up frustrated because I was comparing every part of the journey.

But...here is the real truth:

We never see the whole picture of what’s really going on with someone’s journey.  We only see what they choose to show and tell us.  Often, people are only sharing 10 - 20% of the facts and leaving the other 90% out. But, we are comparing our full 100% with their 20%.

For example, if you came to my house a few hours after my incredible cleaning service left, you might think I maintain a beautifully clean home.  If I chose not to tell you that I paid an incredible team of people to make it look that way, you might start feeling that you are inadequate when it comes to your home.

The reality is that my house never looked this clean until I outsourced it.  And, if you saw it the day before the cleaning team came, you would feel a whole lot better!

So, how do we find the right people to serve as mentors?  How do we know who is leaving real clues?

First, make sure you find someone that is willing to openly share what didn’t work them.  Where have they failed?  If they only share the wins, you aren’t getting the whole picture.

Second, I encourage people to find a mentor that shares similar experiences or lifestyles.  For example, I don’t seek out time management tips from men working a full time corporate job with no kids.  Our lives are completely different and what works for him will likely not translate to my life.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t still follow successful people with different lives than mine.  I just don’t go “all in” and then compare myself to them.  

At the end of the day, I don't want you to think that “success leaves clues” is a terrible thing to say. It isn't. But, say it with caution. Success does leaves clues. However, there are a million other things leaving clues out there as well. And, we need to make sure that we're looking at all of them before we let ourselves step into a potential coaching, training or mentorship relationship.

If you find yourself feeling a little stuck or trapped in the comparison game, it may be that it’s time for you to move away and look for another mentor.

To stay on top of all things time management, organization and productivity follow me on FB and IG at Megan Sumrell. You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel at Work Life Harmony. Hope you have a great week!

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