Alexandra Levit: Today’s Career “Wisdom” Isn’t All That Wise
What I love about Alexandra Levit’s new book, Blind Spots: 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success, is that she tackles her subject head-on. In a world where entrepreneurs can feel like athletes (i.e. past your prime at 30) and everyone online appears to be oh-so-successful, it’s easy to feel like you can “make it” overnight or that you can only achieve the life of your dreams if you tell the corporate world to suck it. But somewhere in the back of our minds we all know this isn’t entirely real. Kudos to Alexandra for stepping up and actually saying so. On the eve of her book launch, Alexandra talks about the “silly theories” that inspired her to write Blind Spots in the first place, the “blind spot” in her own life, and why a career path that sounds “too good to be true” probably is.
1) Why did you decide to write this book?
“I decided to write Blind Spots because I was tired of reading silly theories and platitudes dispensed by business and career authors who sell their work by giving these myths credibility and by telling readers what they want to hear. I wanted to be honest with people about what will render them successful in today’s business world, not yesterday’s. I wanted something out there other than overly provocative advice that hasn’t worked for anyone I know, like quitting your job tomorrow and starting your own business the next day, or marching into your boss’ office and announcing that he should appreciate your individuality.”
2) What will the reader gain from Blind Spots?
“Each chapter includes academic research, expert commentary, anecdotes from contemporary culture, and inspirational stories from people like you who either fell prey to a myth or had to rethink their approach, or who recognized the myth for what it was and consequently came out on top. Along the way, I’ll provide specific advice for course-correcting that readers can use immediately in their work lives. I hope that by the time they finish reading, they realize that a lot of what it takes to be successful is already a part of who they are, and that they absolutely have the power to cultivate the skills and attitude that will take them wherever they want to go.”
3) Can you think of a “blind spot” in your own career? How did you resolve it?
“I have personally experienced most of the book’s myths myself. But overnight success is the first myth I debunk in the book because it’s one of the most widely held beliefs and it’s the one that caused me the most unhappiness. The truth is simple. There are very few – if any – genuine cases of overnight success. The majority of successful people have dedicated themselves to a goal and persevered for a long time, experiencing several setbacks before reaching a high level of achievement that is finally noticed and talked about by others. I wish I had known this earlier so I wouldn’t have mercilessly compared myself to an unrealistic standard. But at least now I can say that I understand the truth and so I’m kinder to myself and more appreciative of the little successes along the way.”
4) In your experience, what is the biggest “blind spot” for new grads entering the workforce today?
“The myth that it’s best to climb the ladder as fast as possible. New grads must understand that getting promoted year after year requires a near-constant vigilance as well as a laser sharp focus on work – often to the detriment of everything else in your life. In Blind Spots, we talk about why it’s best to enjoy your time as an individual contributor and how you can really make the most of your working twenties without burning out or being set up to fail.”
Blind Spots: 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success launches tomorrow. To connect with Alexandra, you can follow her on Twitter at @ALevit or join her on Facebook.