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Why Truly Successful People Never Look For Overnight Success

Why Truly Successful People Never Look For Overnight Success

Years ago as I was really trying to become a great WordPress developer and thought leader. I worked hard and wrote about development a lot and tried to connect with others and share my knowledge. Then someone ‘new’ came along and seemingly overnight created a business that supported his family and a few employees. This all happened while I slaved away with a bunch of ideas that had a bit of traction but not enough money to really live on.

It felt like he had an overnight success, but what I didn’t know at the time was Pippin had at least 30 other projects under his belt. He had tried and not quite monetized a bunch of them. It was only after all that work that he finally hit on a winning formula. All that work I never saw. There is great danger in waiting and wishing for overnight success. Lets look at the stories of 12 successful people to see how desiring overnight success is really just setting yourself up for failure.

1. You missed the years of work

Gary Vanerchuk took his family wine business from $3 million to $60 million in 3 years and then used that success to build a great consulting company and write a few best selling books. Sure, his original success was in different areas than he’s currently focusing on but he still spent years working long days we didn’t see. Only after original success was he able to change fields and gain success.

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2. First run success is often a trick

Looking at Dave Ramsey now you may be surprised to find that he went bankrupt before he built the business he has now. He tricked himself in to thinking his debt-ridden, leveraged life was a success. To many on the outside a 20-something millionaire does seem like a success. Only with that bankruptcy experience was he able to build the business he has today helping millions get out of debt and stay there.

3. They felt trapped just like you and that inspired them

John Lee Dumas spent years feeling trapped in a commute running on the same hamster wheel that never allowed him a break. All he wanted was to do work that inspired him and others. It was this trapped feeling without a podcast to listen to that inspired John to start his daily show interviewing amazing business owners.

4. It’s not about the ‘right’ person just discovering you

Before Kimanzi Constable became the successful speaker, writer, and coach he is today, he ran a bread truck delivery business that was just barely scraping by. He didn’t like it and didn’t just wait for someone to notice him. He worked hard and pitched publications and conferences. His actions brought about the success we see today. He learned that “don’t wait for anyone” attitude when he started his bread business.

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5. Failing gets you a step closer to success

Thomas Edison never believed that an attempt at the light bulb was a failure, it was just a new way he learned not to make a light bulb. It was this view that each failure was just a step towards success that was getting him closer to his goal.

6. You’re experience bank account isn’t full yet

Mikael and Niklas, the founders of Angry Birds, have experience building games and not just the one they’re best know for. Before Angry Birds, they developed 52 other games that never quite hit the same level of appeal. They were only able to create Angry Birds because they had so much experience in the field to draw on as they built a hit.

7. Instant brilliance is not a trait they value

Sir James Dyson didn’t hit vacuum success 5,126 times before he finally found the iconic Dyson design we know today. During this process, he continued to remember that he didn’t value instant success. He knew that effortless success was a sham and that it was going to take significant hard work doing things the wrong way before he built what he wanted.

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8. Success isn’t their measure for happiness

Dan Miller, the host of a popular podcast on doing work you love and former car salesman, regularly says that he could be happy on one of many careers, including going back to selling cars. He didn’t say ‘if only X then I’d be happy’ he set about doing something that made him happy and turned it in to a highly profitable business. All of this occured as he recovered from huge debt from a failed fitness facility.

9. When others throw bricks you build a foundation

When Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, he took that situation and built NeXT and Pixar. NeXT was bought by Apple when Jobs came back and we all know Pixar films are hugely successful. He took that rough situation and used it to build a foundation that brought him even bigger success when he came back to Apple.

10. You haven’t grown enough to wield succes yet

While it’s an amazing story that Amanda Lockwood (now Hegarty) gained instant fame by appearing on Ellen, a quick search for her now really just shows a Twitter profile. This quick jump to fame didn’t give her any of the skills that failure would in handling a large media following. Without the knowledge to leverage it all that reach is wasted.

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11. You haven’t learned to avoid the pain

Despite already being a successful actress, Blake Lively’s latest fashion endeavor failed. In the midst of this “failure”, we get to watch someone gracefully close a company. She says that she didn’t want to build something that provided little value and is now more prepared to find that value in her next project.

12. Dreaming of it means you just don’t take action

The biggest problem with the myth of overnight success is that you think it actually exists. Sitting there waiting to be discovered by the “right person” takes you out of the driver’s seat in your life and business and you end up just waiting for something good to happen. Don’t just sit back and wait for that overnight success.

Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day. Jim Rohn

Get those disciplines in your life and practice them daily on your way to success. If you’re not sure where to start with your disciplines then check out these things that successful people do at the end of the day and pick a few up.

Featured photo credit: Andresr via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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