SeanCarroll

How to Become an Overnight Success

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Ok, so I got your attention.

Why is our society obsessed with people who seemingly become overnight successes? You'll see their stories in magazines, on TV newscasts, or business documentaries. Almost always, there is some headline about how they became an "instant hit"

Sorry to burst your bubble folks, but this is complete B.S.

There is no such thing as an overnight success.

Let's take a look at a few examples. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook burst onto the scene a few years back when his idea spread to millions from it's humble beginnings in a Harvard dorm room.

The media covers this man as if he is some kind of sensation. 

Yes, he is a brilliant entrepreneur, and yes he created something that exploded in a relatively short period of time.

What the media spends LESS time covering are the all nighters he likely pulled while programming the site, the countless bugs, glitches, problems, (and yes, lawsuits) that stood in his way before becoming an overnight success.

There were months, and years of work, experimentation, and even failures before his invention hit the tipping point and became part of main stream culture. That is a far less sexy story than covering his rise to stardom in a 60 minute documentary or in a 2 hour feature film.

Let's take another example from the literary world. Ever heard of Harry Potter? Of course you have. The author, J.K. Rowling appeared seemingly out of nowhere in 1998 when the first book in this series started winning critical acclaim and selling millions of copies worldwide.

What is often NOT reported is that just 5 years earlier, Rowling was diagnosed with clinical depression. Her marriage had just ended and she considered herself to be "The biggest failure I knew" in her own words. 

Later, Rowling would admit that some of her ideas for her books came from this dark period in her life when she was struggling against her own demons.

In 1995, when she finished the manuscript for the first Harry Potter book, she was rejected by 12 publishing houses before finally getting her "huge break" and a whopping 1500 pound advance. That's it. 1500 pounds. The equivalent of about $3000 in 1995. Not exactly life changing money.

The publisher advised Rowling that she should probably get a "day job" because she was unlikely to make much money selling books.

Finally, in 1998, the book took off in popularity. 

Does this sound like an overnight success to you? I think not.

I realize you probably know this intuitively, but it's easy to get misled by the media, and pop culture into thinking that if you just come up with the next big idea, you can get rich overnight and retire to some island some place. It ain't gonna happen.

Ask Mark Zuckerberg if his goal was to get rich and retire. He still shows up to work everyday and is working harder than ever because he loves his work. As for Rowling, she kept writing books long after she probably needed to.

So, how do you become an overnight success? Very simple.

Get off your a$$ and get to work, ONE DAY AT A TIME. 

Comments always welcome.. ;)

 

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