6 Common Myths Holding You Back at Work

UPDATED: May 22, 2023
PUBLISHED: August 4, 2015

Have you fallen prey to “the way we’ve always done it” at work? Did you know, though, that some of the most common business beliefs are being shattered by new research on how our minds and emotions function?

When you put these myths into practice, you contradict your basic primal nature by denying your emotional needs and disregarding the fundamental wiring of your brain.

So, what should you stop believing? Here are six squashable status quos:

Myth #1: Always stay calm and cool.

Business moves at the speed of light, and problems have become the rule rather than the exception. You will feel stress. When you try to hide your feelings, you don’t fool anyone but yourself. Your subtle facial expressions, body language and other physiological signals will reveal your innermost feelings, whether you want to or not. When people don’t see those completely normal, physiological signals in you, they lose a bit of trust in your authenticity. Worse, you rob yourself of the vital energy you need to solve the very problem that has been causing the stress.

Instead, wear your stress on your sleeve.

Revealing your stress without screaming or putting your fist through a wall will help you process and get past it. Far from making you appear weak or overly emotional, it will reveal your humanity and engender respect and trust.

Myth #2: Keep relationships professional.

Most people believe it’s best to keep business relationships at a surface level. They are cordial toward colleagues, but they stay emotionally unattached so they can make tough business decisions without being hindered by personal bonds.

Instead, build strong emotional bonds with teammates.

When teammates relate to each other with genuine feelings of care and emotional concern, they satisfy a basic human need. In fact, when people interact regularly with others with whom they don’t feel a strong sense of belonging, they often end up with toxic negative feelings, including anxiety and depression. Engender strong emotional bonds with your teammates to build the strength needed to achieve your goals.

Myth #3: Run a tight ship.

Lots of leaders believe they need to establish extensive rules for their employees to ensure that everyone works hard, takes care of customers and is a good team player.

Instead, trust people to do the right thing.

When people feel trusted, the chemical oxytocin surges in their brains. They naturally become more confident, cooperative, generous and conscientious. Performance, collaboration and creativity increase. Trust people to do the right thing without the need for lots of rules.

Myth #4: Pursue efficiency and expertise as the Holy Grail.

Most people focus on increasing their productivity and efficiency, and they strive to become experts at their jobs. This requires perfecting processes and skills by performing the same steps over and over again.

Instead, strive to approach each situation with freshness and novelty.

The human brain has evolved for efficiency and will easily get stuck in the ruts forged by the constant repetitions that it takes to perfect a process or become an expert. When you are stuck in the ruts, you are less adept at solving the challenging problems that pervade businesses today. These problems require creativity and innovation. Concentrate on exploration and learning and curiosity so you can avoid mental ruts and come up with more creative solutions.

Myth #5: Look to “big data” for the answers.

People are increasingly turning to huge stores of computer-based data to inform their decision making. Do you believe that your own mind can never be as resourceful as a computer?

Instead, engage your intuition.

Your subconscious mind is often the best source of data. Each of us is constantly exposed to valuable details, such as customer reactions to products and services, which can never be codified in a computer’s bits and bytes. These details are stored in our subconscious minds, often without our conscious minds even being aware of them. When you learn to use your intuition to access this information, it’s not just a hunch or guess; it’s based on real data. Embrace practices to engage your intuition in creative problem solving.

Myth #6: There is no place for love.

“Love” is still a foreign word in most business environments because most people believe it isn’t rational or even useful in business.

Instead, embrace love as a must-have.

You need heartfelt emotion to deal with today’s challenging problems.This is not the gushy love you feel for your partner, but rather the sensation you feel in the area of your heart when you are inspired by doing something meaningful. These heartfelt emotions are just the ticket to spark your highest levels of energy, insight, focus and creative problem-solving ability. Find the deeper meaning in your work and feel the love.

Want to make your physical, emotional and cognitive performance better than ever? Find out how to raise the bar for yourself.


Adapted from Primal Teams: Harnessing the Power of Emotions to Fuel Extraordinary Performance by Jackie Barretta. Primal Teams provides practical techniques, backed by credible leading-edge research, to nurture your human spirit and thereby spark the sharpness and creativity that lead to unprecedented levels of performance.

Jackie Baretta is a founding partner of Nura Group, a consulting firm dedicated to enhancing team innovation and performance. Her work with primal emotions in teams has won her widespread recognition and dozens of prestigious awards. Her book, Primal Teams, shows leaders how to motivate team performances that transcend the talent and skills of the individuals.