The Myth of Overnight Success

I recently read an article by a popular blogger in a reputable magazine on “How to become an overnight success.”  The premise was that it once took years to become a success.  Now, according to the article, a new product or service can become a success overnight.  This writer is in good company; there is a blog on every corner with a guide to instant fame and riches.

I was appalled by the article.  So appalled, in fact, that I confronted the man about it.  While I agree that ideas travel faster in our world of technology, I think his premise is a lie.  Let me explain.

If I shoot a great cat video, it can go viral. My video may spread across the internet in a matter of days.  But does that make me a “success?”  I don’t think so.  Does it create a lasting brand?  Of course not.  Even if I create an app and sell it to Google, and make a lot of money, does that make me a success?  I don’t really think so!  (Nor is anything worth Google’s attention created “overnight.”)   

The truth is that it takes sweat and blood to build a lasting company, brand, or anything else deserving the title “success.”   The danger of spreading the instant-success-myth is that it discourages people.  “What if I’m not a success overnight?  What did I do wrong?”  Nothing!  Nobody is a success overnight!  Ask any recipient of a lifetime achievement award in any industry, and he or she will tell you some version of what Dave Ramsey says about his company Lampo Group:  “We spent 20 years in the trenches, and THEN we became an overnight success.”  Any other outlook on life will only end in tears.  



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