“Overnight Success” is like “Instant Weight Loss”

This past weekend was my 25th college reunion, at which I was invited to speak– an invitation that was a surprise both to me and to many of my former classmates. After all, when did I get to be that person?

Why was I feeling this way? Because in many ways “How to Wow” and “The Wow Factor”– and the subsequent requests to offer keynote addresses at conferences and colleges, retreats and reunions– feel like they did happen overnight.

But then I began considering: I decided to major in English in 10th grade. I got my undergraduate degrees in English/Creative Writing. I worked in publishing for eight years…..At which point it doesn’t seem so overnight.

All of which got me thinking about “overnight success”. In this mode, I took advantage of my current Movie-on-Demand offer and spent yesterday watching Justin Bieber in “Never Say Never.”  After all, isn’t part of the Justin Bieber mystique that his success happened overnight?

Well, yes, if you count working like a demon for ten years “overnight.” My (and possibly your) musical tastes aside, it turns out Justin Bieber has a remarkable work ethic: one that includes beginning to play drums and guitar at age five; playing in a jazz quartet at eight; singing as a street musician in front of the local theater at eleven; and performing in water parks at fifteen… OK, from there to Madison Square Garden happened fast. But that’s the world we live in these days—that’s the power of social media. We all have access to that.

To me, his manager put it best when he said the following, “It went naturally, but naturally doesn’t mean easy. There’s work that goes into that; and you have to do the footwork.”

In other words, there is such thing as “overnight success” any more than there is “instant weight loss.” And anybody who tells you they did it overnight is either a) fibbing or b) has the staying power of a mosquito.

So what does it take to be an “overnight success”? Well, as noted above, it won’t be easy. Nor—on most days—will it be fun, interesting, entertaining, or even particularly rewarding. In fact, most of the time it’s going to look like busting your hump.

And this will go on long after you think there is no upside to continuing.

That said, like smart weight loss, there will ultimately be movement. And, while the sole desire of the weight-sensitive individual is for the number on the scale to be headed down, I guarantee that if you make the daily commitment to your dream, you will soon be headed up.