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Overnight Success or Flash-in-the-Pan?

in April 2011 - Motivation

It’s funny in life and in business when things are going great that the outsider or onlooker often thinks it’s always been that way. We hear of those overnight success stories where a musician wrote a hit song in under an hour and it went platinum in two weeks, made 15 million dollars and signed a record deal worth ten times that.. or the business that seemed to work flawlessly from day one and was finally bought-out by a big corporate in a lucrative deal that had everyone living happily ever after. I must say, I don’t really buy into that way of thinking. Call me cynical, but I don’t think there’s such a thing as an overnight success. Yes, a flash in the pan seems a bit more reasonable to comprehend, but an overnight success? I think not.

Success requires strategy, foundation, lead-ership and follow-through so when you think you’ve spotted an overnight success, take a closer look and I can assure you that you’ve found something else. You’ll probably discover that you’ve found something that’s a bit more like hard work as opposed to an effortless overnight rise to fame.

Instant success, like instant pudding or instant-anything, is what we like because it makes us feel like that effortless success is within our reach too. Why else do people spend money on lottery tickets? It’s that inner desire of an instant windfall, the magic Genie in the bottle or that lost treasure we’ll just happen to come across while digging in our back yard that gets us buying in to these overnight success stories. It’s just not going to happen, well at least not to you or me. I don’t mean success isn’t going to happen, I just mean the “instant-just-add-water-success-and-happiness-ever-after” isn’t just going to happen... well, maybe it will... but it’s going to take a lot of hard work, a plan, and the discipline to follow through even when things don’t seem to be working out the way you had planned.

In 1964, the Beatles, arguably one of the most popular pop bands of all times travelled from the United Kingdom to the USA and magically, almost as if they had been sprinkled with fairy dust, were more successful than any other band that had made that journey before them. Their arrival marked the changing of an era – the overnight sensation from Liverpool was here to stay. The interesting thing is that several years earlier, John and Paul had spent almost every night (approximately 270) in one year performing live in Europe. They played 7 to 10 hour sets almost every day perfecting their act and ensuring that their “overnight success” some years later would in fact be a reality.

I remember reading somewhere that if you want to be an expert in anything, all you need to do is simply spend 10 thousand hours practicing that one thing and you’ll be an expert in it. By the time the Beatles arrived on US soil, they had already spent more hours on stage than many other bands (other than the Rolling Stones) have ever spent together on stage in their entire careers! Overnight success, I think not.

All I’m saying is that success is out there for all of us to grab onto, but we have to grab onto it. It’s not going to grab onto us... and on that rare occasion it does give us a little wink and a smile, we still need to do our part and nurture that relationship because if you don’t, it’ll be gone in the blink of an eye... or the flash of a pan.


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