3 Business proverbs that are dead wrong!

We are continuously looking to business thought leaders for advice on how to approach our own endeavors. Phrases like “It’s a dog eat dog world” have given us the impression that the business world is a shark-filled ocean, and we need to be ready for battle with every decision we make.

This is a false perception. Every time a new project is launched, we don’t need to feel as if we’re in the trenches. Instead, we should be observing very different business mantras that help employees find motivation in becoming the best by their work—not for the sake of competition.

Alexander Kjerulf is the master of cultivating happiness in the work place. Through his work, he has proven that a happy work culture is a key to success in relation to profits, customer service, brand image, and more. Alexander is working hard to spread the message of happiness at work, but there are a few stigmas out there that fighting against his ideology.

Here are 3 business proverbs that he believes are dead wrong, and what we should be saying instead.

1. “Failure is not an option!”

What you are really saying: “We will only tolerate success.”

This one doesn’t actually make sense. No matter how hard we try, failure can always occur due to unforeseen circumstances outside of our control. The pressures of preaching this proverb are actually more likely to cause failure than preventing it. Employees are less effective, they ignore signs of trouble, and they are prone to withhold reporting any issues that may arise, all as a result of their personal fear of failure they’ve been taught.

Failure is one of our greatest opportunities to learn. Of course, we’d all prefer not to fail, but ignoring it is completely irrational. In fact, by accepting that failure is an option, employees are more likely to think creatively, and take risks that can lead to evolutionary progress for a company.

Alternative Proverb:Failure happens. Deal with it.”

Alexander Proverbs Quote

To learn more about Happiness at work, follow Alexander on Facebook and Twitter.

2. “Never be satisfied!”

What you are really saying: “You can’t be satisfied with what you have. You always need to have more.”

This is really the issue of classifying satisfaction as a goal, rather than a state of being. Current businesses may preach that reaching satisfaction can mean bringing everything to a complacent standstill, as the target has been reached. In their minds, always striving for satisfaction is a great motivator for employees.

This simply isn’t true. In fact, this mentality is counterproductive as feeling dissatisfied can lead to employees feeling that they aren’t good enough. What we really need to encourage is to appreciate where we are and what we are doing. When a team consistently appreciates all the good in their organisation, there is a rise in work performance. This is evident in the increased motivation, energy, and confidence of employees.

This doesn’t mean we should always shut our eyes to the bad things and pretend that everything is great. We just need to understand that continuously being dissatisfied can be detrimental.

Alternative proverb: Always be appreciative, but never complacent”

3. “Nice guys finish last”

What you are really saying: Being nice may hinder your career and opportunities for success.”

You can absolutely be a nice person and succeed in business. Is Alexander saying that we need to be nice to all people at all times? No, of course not. But the cruel attitude of a single person can have a negative impact an entire team.

Alexander’s conclusion is this: “Unhappy people hurt the bottom line. In a networked world, reputation matters, and it’s more important to be generous and likeable than to be ruthless and efficient.” This is completely rational—who in their right mind would willingly want to work with a jerk?

Alternative proverb: “Nice guys get the job done.”

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For some people, the ruthless and cutthroat methods of doing business. But in the end, a happy work culture can achieve just as much success as any of them. It all comes down to which kind of setting would you feel more comfortable working in. And since we spend the majority of our living waking hours at work, I would think the choice is an easy one to make.

This article is inspired by Alexander Kjerulf’s Top 5 business maxims that need to go


Philip Trampe
25 Sep 2014

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