Why Top 10 Lists Suck

By Danny Holtschke

I recently thought the following to myself:

“I added four more people to my list because I like their stuff and I don’t want to leave them out — just because the title works with “Top 10” so much better. I still called the piece top 10. Am I lying?

It sucks, I know but it works. That’s why I think Top 10 Lists suck.

Why do we think that there are ‘only’ top ten people in a given field?

The value in a “top whatever list” is the hand-selected part. You don’t need to search for the top whatever. If you trust the source, you simply go along with the top whatever list.

There are a few good reasons why you shouldn’t trust this kind of bullshit:

  1. It always depends on the context. You’ll never have a complete picture of another person’s life.
  2. Even Top 10 Lists are too many people to follow. Choose two or three instead.
  3. Don’t copy others. #BeYourself.
  4. Don’t reduce life to financial success. Success comes in many forms.

Find out what success means to you and find your role models accordingly.

I am troubled and hugely impacted on what we in our society consider successful. Mostly we refer to financial success. But what about health? Well-being? Relationships? Fun? Mindfulness?

Why do we reduce success only to people on the top? How can we possibly know if they are happy, healthy and really enjoy what they are doing?

We can’t unless we know their goals. That’s what I learned from Derek Sivers being interviewed by Tim Ferriss.

What is success?

Let’s say an entrepreneur is extremely rich. He made millions of dollars by successfully building and selling businesses. But also, he feels obsessed with doing so. Feels obsessed to proof to himself that only by doing so he is worthwhile. It’s how he gets his self-confidence and self-worth. My thought: Poor he.

Imagine someone else. What if she originally set out to have a balanced life with family and kids. What if she is lonely now — even though she is a billionaire and reached the highest of success (for most people). My thought: Poor she.

There are so many different ways to look at this that it becomes apparent that we always should need to know someone’s goals and context to judge whether he or she is successful.

Don’t judge at all

I even think we shouldn’t judge them at all because it really doesn’t matter if and how successful someone else is.

As long as we live true to ourself, true to our goals and values, we are in sync with ourself.

We don’t need someone else to imitate. We shouldn’t actually. I am not saying that we shouldn’t look for role models and inspirations. I am just saying that we should be extremely careful in judging what success is and how so-judged “successful people” feel and if we truly want to change seats and positions with them.

The gras always looks greener on the other side.

How the successful might feel

Most likely they feel pressured — to achieve more, to get more Twitter followers, to get a bigger house, to get a faster car or whatever.

If they aren’t present and realize that comparing themselves leads to suffering, they can’t be happy because there will always be someone else who has (accomplished) “more”.

The point?

Even though they might have millions in their bank account, they might not be happy.

Even the most successful people, entrepreneurs, authors, do-ers, musicians … are presented with life’s greatest challenge — every day: To stay present. To be aware. To be in the moment to enjoy what we call LIFE.

This is — of course — not only true for the successful ones, but for everyone.

Comparing leads to suffering. Suffering leads to unhappiness.

Don’t compare yourself

Independently of your success in life, if you aren’t present, you can’t be in peace. Can’t be fulfilled. Can’t be truly happy because you tend to chase the next thing. And the next thing.

For entrepreneurs, it’s called “the entrepreneurial gap” — the gap between now and future success.

While it’s great to be ambitious and bold, it’s also dysfunctional to postpone your happiness. — Dan Sullivan via MindValley

Stay present

At every moment, you are confronted with a challenge: To stay present. That will never stop. Your mind constantly gives you ‘mind fucks’ to deal with.

If you don’t realize that you happen to be in the hamster wheel of endless work, to-dos and stress, you are unhappy, and sacrifice your health and well-being.

So let’s not forget: the folks above who achieved great successes in life also cope with this everyday challenge. There is more shade in their lives than you imagine.

Just be aware that another person’s life is never that awesome than it seems.

Hence, don’t be too hard on yourself. #LoveYourself. #ChooseYourself. #BeYourself

It’s ok to admire other people and dream about how it would be to reach similar success.

BUT dreaming doesn’t bring you anywhere. Actions do.

So act on your dreams with little steps — without comparing, without judging, but with compassion, a deep conviction, and presence.


Share your ❤ below — and respond with your thoughts.

I am looking forward to hearing from you.

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About Danny: Hi, I bring ‘BE YOURSELF’ to my next level by sharing unfiltered, no BS thoughts here. I started StartupGeist to help students and recent graduates build a business — and have a good life.

StartupGeist.com | StartupGeist | Danny@StartupGeist.com


Originally published at dannyholtschke.com on March 23, 2016.