The truth about lies: why “tips & tricks”, “motivation tactics” and “mindset hacks” don’t work ─ and what does

What I am about to share with you, has been my own painful realization, after spending 10 months and an entire week drilling down the content consumption rabbit hole ─ paralyzed, overwhelmed and exhausted by over information.

Just picture me.

That particular week was the last week of a freezing January, in a cozy Air BnB, in Chicago, just a few days after having attended yet another startup conference, that would help me figure out how to “bootstrap my online business” ─ and yet there I was two days after the closing, sitting in my room all stuck and depleted.

My eyes were lazily staring at the screen, after having skimmed more scribbled notes that I knew I had, hopping across links, in an infinite range of open tabs and unsuccessfully trying to sort my repository of vetted ideas in what felt like a mind-dump.

Zero willpower, zero motivation nor inspiration and absolutely no clue of how to take any step towards any direction.

It was right there, at that moment of numbness, that my confused emotional state screamed out so loud; it felt as if it hit me.

How was that even possible?

I’ll explain.

But first, I’ll be blunt with whoever reads this.

In, fact, I have 3 reasons why you shouldn’t read this, at all.

I know, it sounds cocky, but it is a risk that I’m willing to take.

I am firm about this because everything I lay out here has been 100% true for me and for a ton of people I’ve worked with.

Every point of it, at least once.

All of it, for years.

So now, I am cautious with whomever I share my views with, and I get more tough with people that seem to go through the same patterns that I have.

So, here goes.

I’m firmly dissuading you from reading on if any of these three conditions are true for you (or the people you work with):

1. You’re all about EXPERTS like “motivational speakers”, “epiphany generators”, “mindset fixers” and “authenticity gurus” to help you “get inspired”, “find your passion” and
“help you align with the Universe”
─ and still, even when you do find them, you take zero action afterwards.
You just think about how “life-changing” and “inspiring” they are, then post about them on your social feed.That’s it!

2. You’re after RESULTS like “quick wins,” “top performers’ best practices” and “overnight success stories.”
You ponder on possible ways, for your current or future business, to “make you rich quick”.─ even though you know most stories of the kind are either an inflated version of the reality or entirely fake.

3. You google or pick other people’s brains for ADVICE like “quick tips and tricks,” “the newest productivity apps,” “mindset hacks” and “the latest ways to work smarter, not harder”!
─ Then you still feel that’s too much work to do. You take notes of some ideas, instead, and “save” them for later.

When the time is right.

Which never is.

[Still there? Go. Go now. Now is your chance.]

You’re reading at your own risk, from this point onwards.
So if you’re still here, you either understand where I am going with this or else you wonder:

“So what? I do 1, 2 or 3 (or all) and for me, they work. What’s your deal, Cleo?”

Well, here is the thing:

Of course, they DO work on a particular aspect:

They work on an emotional level ─ they just don’t spark any action.

I am fully aware of how our feelings blind us, which is why I want to shout this out loud to anyone I care about.

Some of you I might not know; but I still care, because it’s the things we both seem to care about, that make us relate and thus, make me say that I care about you too. (Was that far too complex? Oh ok.)

So, what I know is that our feelings are not a barometer of our ability to take action.

Our emotional world has other roles to play.

It is crucial for our health, our personal development, and consequently our well-being.

We know this.

We also know that for most people emotions are stronger than thoughts and actions.

I also relate to this, because I have felt it time and again, probably you have too:

  1. We feel so inspired and motivated by being exposed to empowering and often perceived as “transformational” contents: books, seminars, videos, TED talks, articles, and podcasts.

They make us feel so pumped-up and better armed to get on with life and grow on the way.

  1. We feel that we are learning so much new stuff which we are eager to share with others, in live discussions and through posts on our social feed.

We feel so much more knowledgeable when we “quote” real experts that share tips to overcome some real problems, that our friends and new acquaintances have.

It makes us connect so much better and in a more meaningful way with them.

  1. We feel the satisfaction of doing something that maybe others don’t do ─ reading, learning, widening our horizons ─ we learn about new ideas, other people’s options, take advice from experts and upskill on the latest digital or other trends. We are focusing on our personal development.

We are -damn right- doing so much that so many don’t!

We feel so proud of how much all these inputs help us grow inside.

“Stop learning, and you start dying” Right?

The question is:

What actions do we take afterwards? 

What if all we get is inputs that generate these somewhat powerful emotions ─ though often fleeting─ but don’t change anything in our daily habits?

Does any of this propel us into a new situation, where we can have a significant impact on something that really matters to us, or to others?

Do we ever wonder if we’re really making any progress towards our goals?

The painful truth is that most of us probably aren’t.

That is if we had any specific goals in the first place.

We don’t like to admit it, but we’re lying to ourselves.

We consume contents endlessly and even use learning as a disguise.

The inputs we have do not lead us to any specific outcome afterward ─ we don’t implement the learnings, we don’t create further value -in any creative or practical way- and we don’t apply the knowledge to create solutions that make things better.

Instead, we use life-long learning as a disguise for our inertia. (Ok, now don’t get all angry at me. I told you already. It was your choice to keep reading.)

I’m taking the fall for this, though. (Better now?)

Through my entire life, I’ve been all about reading and learning and growing on the way.

Then, I’d think I was taking action right away.

And for me, taking action meant to keep learning everything about what needed to be done on a specific matter.

Not acting upon it.

But learning on it.

So, I’ve been doing all of the above, for years.

Which all worked fine, up to a point.

Until it didn’t.

So back to the week where I was emotionally, mentally and physically stuck.

The same thing that got me stagnated at first ─ hint: information overwhelm─ was what then kicked me in the butt and eventually propelled me forward.

I realized I had to channel my inputs it in a way that serves me and the people I intended to work with.

So, right after that week I consciously decided that from that point onwards, every new input I was receiving should aim:

either at resolving a specific issue or getting me closer to a specific goal.

Anything that didn’t fit in there…I had to drop it.

This concept sparked every single of the moves I took next.

So, what was the underlying realization that kicked in and got me moving?

It was my unintended encounter with an uncomfortable truth ─ one that the vastly consumed conventional wisdom, doesn’t ever talk about.

In short:

Inspiration is fleeting, motivation does not actually mobilize to action and tips and tricks are not an actual strategy to get anything done.

There it is. Now it’s said!

So, what happens next?

If “Tips and tricks” are NOT an actual strategy to get anything done, then what is?

Now, before I keep on, I’ll say that I know that for a lot of people having access to more and more ideas might be comforting and it’s what drives them: feeling knowledgeable makes them feel in control.

But in fact, collecting ideas, tactics, tips, and tricks will change nothing in the long run ─ unless we get out the real world and act upon them.

But even then, here’s what often happens:

we say “If others can do it, I sure can do it too” and we start applying some ideas -anything-  and cross our fingers hoping that it will help us get ahead with our goals, business or other.

We do this when we want to e.g.: “find work/life balance”, “gain more customers”, “start an online business from scratch” or “expand our business further”.

Then, we get derailed because even then, things still don’t work.

Even when we intentionally act upon a piece of advice, we end up realizing that it isn’t quite as useful.

Here’s why.

What many experts, gurus, influencers, bloggers and motivational speakers share are in the form of tips, tricks, tactics, and hacks – mainly because they read nicer on a headline, are just random snippets of advice.

I hope this is no surprise to anyone.

We ask about them, and Google search them, and we always find titles of the kind, because it’s well known that many people are attracted to this style of writing as a quick read:

“33 ways to do [this thing]”
“53 tactics to help you with [this problem]”
“11 tips to achieve [this dream]”

But here’s the thing. They’re just “quick-fixes”. They give us a rush when we read or hear them.

However, when we decide we want to take action, it becomes clear:

Titles are attractive, but random tactics and disconnected tips are not a reliable way to get anything done ─ even less build business knowledge.

Think about it.

The internet is cluttered with information and entire industries are built on our obsessive urge to know the latest tips on financial investments, health habits, building relationships, growing a business, efficient diets and fitness trends.

If any of it worked, as such, why isn’t everyone happy, successful, healthy and fit?

“Tips and Tricks” don’t work, because they cannot provide a coherent solution to real problems.

Tips and tricks, mindsets and hacks will only work if you’ve gone through the more detailed stages first.

If you have a genuine understanding of how the basics work, what your end goal is, what strengths to leverage, and what gaps to close, then a few quick reminders can be catalytic.

If you see a tip or a hack, but don’t know “how that thing works”; well, you cannot even relate.

Would you ever take advice from someone giving you “19 quick tips to build a bridge”?

It’s scary, right?

And it’s the same with important matters in our lives.

With our business too.

Unless you get your hands on a reliable system that can guide you through the exact steps needed to get the fundamentals straight; with specific steps to follow when starting, and guidance on how to move to the next stage, you will never be able to take any action towards the results you’re after.

Stop collecting tips and tricks ─ and start doing this instead.

Why I’m so vocal about “quick wins” and “quick tips”?

Because I’ve experienced this myself.

Tips and tricks, hacks, ideas, and tactics, are thrown at us in all kinds of formats that may be attractive ─ but not efficient.

As a result, they serve as random feel-good advice, instead of a repeatable formula designed to lead to action.

This is because two essential elements are vastly missing from most magnetizing-titles-but-inefficient contents:

  1. The glue ─ a coherent, properly sequenced and goal-driven system that ties everything together at every step of the way
  2. The 1st step ─ the exact move to start from and where to step upon to move forward, every time.

So, here’s my proposition.

I suggest you start this off right away.

Experiment with this, first.

Then see if works for you, or not.

Instead of building the entire skillset to become someone that can identify patterns and design actionable systems (like high performers consistently do) ─ we’ll jumpstart on just learning how to recognize 1st steps ─ and act upon them.

This is where action-taking-muscle-building starts; so, this is where you should start practicing action-taking. 

Pick an issue you have been struggling with lately.

Then decide to act upon just one thing that concerns that issue, only you need to do it right away.

The issue you have been struggling with can be anything like this:

“I need to make more money”, “I don’t have a business idea”, “I am afraid I’d be seen as a joke”, “I need to lose weight”, “I want to travel to Indonesia sometime”, “I want to gain more customers”.


The whole idea is to pick one struggle and figure out one thing that you can do about it right there, on the spot.

Really though.

Do it right away.

A hint of how to go about it is this:

Think what the one thing you’d tell a friend to do right away if this was an issue that they struggled with?

That’s better, right?

There you go.

Please post it on your preferred social media platform or text a friend, if you wish.

It’s a tiny step, but a big one too.

Well done.

So, how does it feel to have taken care of at least of one micro-action?

What’s the micro-action that comes next?

Do that one tomorrow.

You achieved already a lot.

Stay put.

<Cleo out!>

PS1: The only way you can start taking action, is to make a conscious decision to act on the tiniest possible micro-action right there, on the spot.

It can be as little as sending yourself a reminder in your agenda…to take care of this matter, “tomorrow at 10:00”, if nothing else is feasible, right away. (Like if you’re traveling on the Tran Siberian to Vladivostok. In the winter of 1918. With no ink. Unfed. And with all pigeons on strike. Just saying.)

Write down a concrete micro action. Share here.

Make it real.

For more stuff on how to take massive action to make things happen on your business, join me on MediumLinkedInInstagram, FacebookTwitter, and let’s work out “The Best Way Forward”, together.