The truth? Most people have completely lost touch with what it takes to be successful.
Want to be wealthy, influential, and world-class in your field? Strap in to work harder and longer than you’ve ever worked before.
Being successful isn’t easy, and it does NOT happen fast. You have to earn it, and most of the day-to-day work it takes to become successful is painstaking, tedious, and BORING.
No one likes to tell you that part of their story.
So, what about those rocketship success stories we’ve all seen? Those business owners and celebrities no one had heard of yesterday who are world famous today?
Here are three truths to burst the bubble on those B.S. success stories:
- Fast success is the exception, not the rule. Fast fortunes happen, but they’re extremely rare. Yeah, some people legitimately achieve lightning-speed results, but for most of us, lasting success takes a long time and a lot of hard work. Achieving your goals is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll likely put in years of work and get no accolades, never be recognized, and earn little (if any) money, before achieving any kind of fame or fortune.
- You’re likely not getting the whole story. When you hear a story of someone’s fast rise to success, understand that you’re probably not getting all the details. We’ve all heard those stories of entrepreneurs who went from $0 in revenue to six-figure launches in a few months. What we don’t usually hear about is the 10,000 hours (or more) they put into mastering their craft, becoming an expert in their field, and building a network before launching a product or starting a business.
- Explosive growth can be a recipe for disaster. Be careful what you wish for. If you’re not prepared, an enormous influx of customers could crash your website, overwhelm your team, and turn into a customer service nightmare. It could destroy your brand before you’ve had a chance to prove yourself. Sustaining fast growth requires you to take the time to build a solid foundation and develop the business savvy to navigate it.
“Zero to Hero” Stories That Prove Overnight Success Is Myth
Not convinced? I get it. A story of instant rewards is way more exciting than one about hard work and perseverance in the face of obscurity.
But if you want to be successful, perseverance is the name of the game. Let’s pull back the curtain on a few “overnight success” stories to see what it really took to hit it big.
Stephenie Meyer, Author of Twilight
The legend around the powerhouse Twilight franchise is that the story came to author Stephenie Meyer in a dream. She woke up, started writing, and poof! International fame.
But we all know that, no matter how big your dreams, they don’t generate best-selling novels while you sleep. That takes butt-in-seat kinda work.
Stephenie Meyer took the inspiration from her dream and ran with it. She spent three months writing the novel, researching the traditions she included in the story, and joining a writers’ group for support. She submitted the manuscript to 15 literary agents, got no response from five, and was rejected by nine before landing her agent and eventually a publishing deal.
Stephenie grew her fanbase from scratch by showing up for bimonthly book signings and events near her home in Arizona.
And, while it’s true that Twilight was the first novel she’d written, Stephenie had earned a BA in English Literature a few years before on a National Merit Scholarship — so she knew her stuff, and she knew how to work her butt off.
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Founders of Instagram
A $1 billion acquisition by Facebook after two years in business is a big effin’ deal in Silicon Valley. But Instagram didn’t appear overnight in some guy’s garage.
Instagram’s founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, were both Stanford grads and had been part of the university’s Mayfield Fellows program, which teaches students how to run tech startups and places them in established companies and high-powered startups.
Kevin had worked on Gmail at Google, and he built his check-in app called Burbn on the weekends. He connected with Mike, who was an early user of the app, according to a story of Instagram’s founding by Inc.
The only problem? Foursquare was steep competition for a check-in app, so the two took a different route and pared Burbn down to just photo-sharing — and renamed it Instagram.
Mia & Jason Bauer, Founders of Crumbs Bake Shop
Remember the cupcake craze of the early 2000s?
That kind of trend means booming business for companies that get in early — but fast growth is risky if you’re not built to withstand copycat competition and changing consumer tastes.
In 2003, husband and wife team Jason and Mia Bauer opened Crumbs Bake Shop, a small mom-and-pop bakery in Manhattan that grew beyond any small business owner’s wildest dreams. By 2011, Crumb Bake Shop had become a publicly-traded company and the largest cupcake chain in the U.S. with 79 locations in nine states.
In 2014, cupcake demand was on the decline, and the company started having serious financial problems because of the costs of operating so many physical stores. By 2016, it had closed all its locations.
You Have to Work Hard for “Overnight Success”
If you want to be an overnight success, you need to be an everyday hustler.
You’ll have to overcome challenges, stay creative, keep innovating, believe in yourself, work your nose off, and keep at it even when it’s not easy. Especially when it’s not easy. Which will be most of the time.
Stories of speedy success can make you feel defeated, but don’t let them get you down. Remember: They’re rarer than they seem, you probably don’t know the whole story, and fast growth isn’t the best path for every business.
Don’t worry about those other businesses. Just keep doing what you do well, and let your business stand out in its own time.
Now, let’s turn this insight into action.
Grab a notebook, and spend 5 to 10 minutes writing your answers to these questions:
Do you personally know anyone who truly had a meteoric rise to success? What was their real, behind-the-curtain experience? What lessons can you take away from witnessing it?
Success in real life takes hard work, perseverance, and, often, a little luck.
Slow and steady wins the race.
Your true path to success is making the right choices daily — again and again and again.