Five years ago, John Gorman was homeless at the ripe old age of 30. He pens a rather dark story of his experiences in an article for Personal Growth at Medium.com, and in doing so, exposes the Overnight Success Myth.
Luis E. Romero’s 2016 article for Forbes explains the Overnight Success Myth this way: “…there is usually a story of hard work, creativity, genius and good opportunities behind such stories.”
In his book, Barking Up The Wrong Tree, Eric Barker cites the success of those who seemingly make it to the top via unconventional routes or an ‘unfiltered path’ to success this way: “They do unexpected things, have different backgrounds, and are often unpredictable. Yet they bring change and make a difference.”
I’ve lived long enough to realize that in most cases, success is the result of trial and error combined with a lot of hard work. And consistency is key. We’ve all heard the old adage:
“If at first you don’t succeed…Try, try again.”
How Do You Define Success?
Really, this is where it all starts.
No matter your road to success – no matter whether or not the road that leads to a successful outcome is the one you would have chosen – the only way you can measure your success or know when you’ve truly ‘arrived’ is by first defining what success is for YOU.
- Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb.
- Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4-years-old and did not read until he was 7. His parents thought he was “sub-normal,” and one of his teachers described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.” He was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. He did eventually learn to speak and read. Even to do a little math.
- Fred Smith, the founder of Federal Express, received a “C” on his college paper detailing his idea for a reliable overnight delivery service. His professor at Yale told him, “Well, Fred, the concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a “C” grade, your ideas also have to be feasible.
- Woody Allen: “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying. Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
Everyone who has ever failed has had a choice to make.
Choosing to keep trying, to keep showing up, to put in the hard work, to never give up – this is the path that ultimately led them to arrive at whatever it was they wanted.
Personal Growth Exposes Success
You’ve already succeeded in a number of ways. Throughout the average person’s life, successes accumulate daily. If you’re not convinced of that, it’s time to examine the personal growth you’ve experienced, expose what you’ve achieved as a result, and reset any ‘mythical’ expectations.
Years ago, I determined that for me, the definition of success had to include doing what I love to do and what made me feel good about myself. In my personal and professional life, I feel successful when I am able to help others become empowered to improve their lives, meet their goals, and grow!
Why Overnight Success Is Merely A Myth
Achieving success can happen faster for some – but without the deep roots of substantial personal growth, success can just as quickly be lost.
Every time you learn something – you grow. Every time you grow – you progress. Every time you progress – you get closer to your definition of success.
True success is a process that involves some work. You must be:
- Able to define the goal
- Determined to never give up
- Open to doing whatever it takes
- Willing to get whatever tools you need
- Open to new ideas, viewpoints, perspectives
Romero made a great point in his Forbes article:
“What most people call overnight success is actually the market suddenly realizing the value of a great product or service that had been kept in obscurity for too long while its creators refused to give up.”
Develop right attitudes like these, and nothing will ever be impossible.