Get-over your overnight success theories

Response to The Washington Post “On Success” question about Scott Brown’s stealth success?
Q: How often do achievements like that of the newly elected Republican senator from Massachusetts seem to materialize out of thin air? Do you believe in the concept of overnight success?

Most overnight success is about working really hard for a while – or, in some cases, most of your life! – and then having one action or set of circumstances throw you over the top. We don’t track people in their careers when they’re doing nothing special. Why would we? Still, most people like the idea of overnight success because we can just wait for someone we’ve never heard of to emerge to a position of success and then we can say, “This guy came out of nowhere and now he’s big time; maybe I can do that even though I have no experience and I’m the living embodiment of mediocrity!”

My point (and I’m pretty sure I just made it, but because I’m a professional speaker I’ll do it again) is that, to a great extent, overnight success is a myth. It’s more than extraordinarily rare for someone to be working at Burger King one day and running for governor the next. Even VP candidate Sarah Palin was an actual governor, not just a housewife we found in the wilderness! Now, maybe the entertainment world can fool us because some singer we’ve never heard of competes in a contest and suddenly has fame and success. But none of those people started singing yesterday. … OK, clearly some did, but Simon Cowell or some other mean British guy usually crushes their dreams before their lack of talent can infect the public.

As far as Brown goes, he may be someone to watch; he has some presidential qualities about him (which means he is not goofy or overtly fake and looks like the winner of a central casting call for politician-looking guys). If he works hard for a few years and plays his cards right, he might eventually become an overnight success in the White House.

Read more from “On Success” pannelist at the Washington Post

One Response to Get-over your overnight success theories

  1. Hello Garrison,

    The prevalence of the myth of overnight success is probably one of the biggest stumbling blocks for most people trying to attain “success”.

    It falls into the same semi-destructive mindset most people have about attaining wealth…..I saw a recent statistic that said the majority of people in America believe they will be rich some day….by winning the lottery!

    What I have observed from PERSONAL EXPERIENCE and by watching those around me is that the hardest part of attaining success is TAKING ACTION.

    In other words, we can read all we want about success, listen to countless motivational speakers like you, and dream about success all day and all night, but until the person takes some ACTION, nothing will ever happen.

    I know it sounds rather simplistic, but the TAKING ACTION part seems to always be where people fail. I don’t know why most of us are unable to take action….I’m sure you could offer several theories which I’d like to hear!

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