Overnight Success Takes Years

We can all think of people who became overnight successes. From The Beatles, to Kenny Rogers,  to J.K. Rowling, to Tobi Lutke. There are dozens more. But, overnight – NO!

It depends on how you define success.

I can believe in overnight recognition, but if you define success as something talent and skill related, all of these people were successful long before they became known. The idea of overnight success diminishes attention to the skill and creates the illusion of something for nothing.

Kenny Rogers once pointed out that he was an overnight success after spending ten years doing one night stands. The Beatles spend years in Germany. Their first concert outside Liverpool drew 18 people. J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishers, and Tobi Lutke spent 9 years building Shopify.

If the people above and the many more like them had never become known would they be less successful in an objective sense? They might have fewer fans or less money or both, but objectively, they would have been a success.

Know what you really want

A thought from the investment world addresses what really matters.

“The manageable variables for a lucky outcome are persistence and time.” Joel Greenblatt

You can wait for luck to find you, or you can build a skill stack that supports what you want from life. Most outcomes are the result of long practice.

Derek Sivers spent 15 years working several hours a day to become a competent singer. After becoming that, someone told him he was “gifted.” How demeaning must that have been? No one is “gifted” in the sense they can be excellent at anything without having worked at it. People with an aptitude plateau much sooner than they could.

Tell your children. Tell your self.

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” Tim Notke.

There will be mistakes, but that’s how you learn. I doubt the publisher printed the first draft of Harry Potter.

Things I and others have noticed.

  1. Successful people read a lot. “In my whole life, I have known no wise people over a broad subject matter area who didn’t read all the time. None. Zero.” Charlie Munger
  2. Successful people work at becoming competent with weaknesses and develop nuanced skills within their strengths. “It’s good to strengthen weakness but better to know and play to your strengths.” Dan Rockwell
  3. Successful people never stop learning. “If you don’t keep learning, other people will pass you by.” Charlie Munger
  4. Successful people value mistakes. “Few of us enjoy being wrong. Finding joy in having been wrong is a step toward keeping an open mind.” Adam Grant
  5. Successful people know there is much more to learn. “A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.” Albert Einstein
  6. Successful people say “no” a lot. They pick their battles. “If you want above average results, you have to say no to average opportunities. If you spend all of your time chasing average opportunities, you’ll have no time for great ones. ” Shayne Parrish
  7. Successful people have an attitude that lets them practice and improve. “Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.”  Teacher Wisdom

The takeaway.

“First, decide exactly what it is you want. Most people never do that. Second, determine the price you’re going to have to pay to get it, and then resolve to pay that price.” H.L. Hunt


I help people have more retirement income and larger, more liquid estates.

Call in Canada 705-927-4770, or email don@moneyfyi.com

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