The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


What Is 'Mystique'?

Mystique is powerful: it makes things with a little mystery appear more attractive than what they really are. It's easy to like the idea of doing something. It's different to like actually doing it.

The best way to counteract Mystique is to talk to someone who does what you are interested in. Ask them and learn the high and low points of their job.

No situation is perfect. Learn from others before you start, it will help greatly to make a better decision.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Mystique'

There's a big difference between liking the idea of being/doing something and liking the actual being/doing.

It's easy to like the idea of being the CEO of a Fortune 50. It's harder to like the hours, the responsibility, and the pressure that comes with the top job.

It's easy to like the idea of being a manager. It's harder to like the demands from C-level execs, surprises from your direct reports, and the necessity of defending your turf in a political environment.

It's easy to like the idea of getting an Ivy-League MBA or law degree. It's harder to like the six- figure debt and the corresponding necessity of getting a stressful 60+ hour-a-week job job at a large corporation to make the investment "worth it."

It's easy to like the idea of being self-employed. It's harder to like the fact that 100% of your income comes from your own effort, and that if you screw up, you're the one that will face the consequences.

It's easy to like the idea of raising millions of dollars of venture capital. It's harder to like the fact that you've given up control over the project you're investing your life in.

It's easy to like the idea of being an author. It's harder to like the solitude, uncertainty, and the long hours of "butt in chair, hands on keyboard" that consistent writing requires.

It's easy to like the idea of being a celebrity. It's harder to like the inevitable scrutiny, loss of privacy, and constant fear that people will direct their Attention away from you in favor of the "next big thing."

Mystique is a powerful force-a little mystery makes most things appear a lot more attractive than they actually are.

Fortunately, there's an easy way to counteract the rose-colored glasses of mystique: have a real human conversation with someone who's actually done what you're attracted to.

Here's what to ask: "I really respect what you're doing, but I imagine it has high points and low points. Could you share them with me? Knowing what you know now, is it worth the effort?" It only takes a few minutes, and you'll be amazed by what you learn, both on the positive and the negative side.

No job, project, or position is flawless-every course of action has Tradeoffs.

Learning what those are in advance gives you a major advantage: you can examine an option without idealizing it, then choose if it's really what you want to do before you start. That kind of knowledge is priceless.

Questions About 'Mystique'


"What grief we'd avoid if we knew how to transfer emotional experience across generations, as we do money or scientific knowledge."

Alain de Botton, philosopher and essayist


From Chapter 7:

Working With Yourself


https://personalmba.com/mystique/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

More about Josh Kaufman →