Your Guide to Becoming an Overnight Success

April 5, 2012

Ever read a blog post that resonates with you through and through? One you keep thinking about, even after you’ve closed your browser?

If you’re working toward a big goal, don’t miss this piece from Josh Linkner on Fast Company: The Dirty Little Secret of Overnight Success. Here are the first few graphs:

Angry Birds, the incredibly popular game, was software maker Rovio's 52nd attempt. They spent eight years and nearly went bankrupt before finally creating their massive hit.

Pinterest is one of the fastest-growing websites in history, but struggled for a long time. Pinterest's CEO recently said that it had “catastrophically small numbers” in its first year after launch and that if he had listened to popular startup advice he probably would have quit.

James Dyson failed in 5,126 prototypes before perfecting his revolutionary vacuum cleaner. Groupon was put on life support and nearly shut down at one point in its meteoric rise.

When looking at the most successful people and organizations, we often imagine geniuses with a smooth journey straight to the promised land. But when you really examine nearly every success story, they are filled with crushing defeats, near-death experiences, and countless setbacks.

The post is short and succinct — and was exactly what I needed to read yesterday when my biz partner shared it on Facebook. I was having one of those days where I wondered why some writers’ online projects seem to take off so quickly, while I’ve been throwing myself into this blog for several years and haven’t quite hit 1,000 subscribers. Or why some writers can put out a manuscript that’s almost immediately swept up by a publisher, while my first book project is requiring far more patience. Why do some people just take off like the wind, while the rest of us labor?

(I’m not complaining, by the way; I see myself as lucky and making more luck every day. But I’d by lying to you if I said these thoughts didn’t go through my mind. And I don’t mind sharing that because I think they probably go through yours, too.)

Yet as this piece points out, in many cases, those people who look like they took off like the wind actually labored like the rest of us. Their success looks immediate, but it was actually gradual, with lots of little — and maybe even big — failures along the way.

Which brings Linkner to an inspiring conclusion: “So the next time you feel the sting of failure, just realize you’re likely one shot closer to hitting your target.”

Now doesn’t that make you want to go out and do something awesome today?

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7 Replies to “Your Guide to Becoming an Overnight Success”

  • Kristin Offiler says:

    This is SUCH a good point to remember, whether you’re writing a book, starting a business, or doing *anything* you’re passionate about. Sometimes I look at other people who are doing what I want to be doing, and it seems like they just woke up one day and started being successful. That’s never the case, but don’t we let ourselves think it is? Silly. This is a great reminder, Lexi!

  • This is so true! (It took me about 20 years to become an “overnight success” and nothing is constant, except for change and uncertainty)
    Thanks for your great postings.

  • Nice post. Thank you for the reminder.

  • shelia says:

    Great post and points. It’s hard to appreciate failure and realize that it’s paving the road to success. True success usually only comes to those that are willing to get up and try again. I just wish those failures — aka important lessons — didn’t hurt so badly.

  • chantal p says:

    I assume most people have an old program (or many) running that they may not be entirely aware of around the prospect of becoming an overnight success.
    Some limiting beliefs I have become aware of (that are running in me) are:
    *If at first you don’t succeed (which you probably won’t), try, and try again
    *You got to work hard (and long) for what you want
    *Things don’t happen overnight, things takes time
    *If it’s easy, it’s not “worth it”
    *You have to “DO” something to “make” money
    (you get the point…)

    Now, what I do from here, after identifying old programs is:
    I ask myself a few questions:
    “Is this belief serving or hindering me?”
    “What do I really believe about that now?”
    “What do I want to believe about that?”
    (etc.)

    Usually about this time, I shift into a conscious state of mind where I am “choosing” my thoughts, instead of allowing old default thinking to hold me hostage in some old pattern that I am no longer benefiting from thinking.

    You would be surprised by how many people are not aware that they are creating their reality by default, and how many people are desiring tools to help them overcome their “hang-ups”.

    Hope that helps some body.
    Pay it forward!

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