The Myth of Overnight Success

There is no such thing as an overnight success. Too many believe in the fantasy that superstar athletes, pianists, researchers, Olympians and others were born that way or simply stumbled on their success overnight. After all, the best of the best make what they do look so easy that people either think anyone can do or that a select few are chosen to do it.

This myth is perpetuated by the media. On television we see the successful person performing his/her craft. We see the concert, the movie, the computer program, the game, the play, the miracle surgery, the lecture, the Nobel Prize, the latest discovery or the Olympic event. We see the end result—the outcome. But what most of us don’t see are the countless hours of sweat, toil, dedication, practice and preparation that lead to greatness.

The tennis champion hit a million backhands before winning Roland Garros. The rock star sang for countless hours before reaching stardom. Technology designers spent thousands of hours to create new and revolutionary products that make our lives easier. The teacher spent a career preparing and practicing ways to better connect with and teach her students before winning a teacher of the year award. The symphony practiced thousands of hours to create music that brought the audience to tears. And the sales team spent a year preparing for the important meeting that landed their biggest client.

Summing-up: The ideal of the overnight success is a myth. Just as the Olympian must train for years for one defining race, you must wake up each day and practice, prepare and train to be your best. Don’t settle for mediocrity, but strive each day for excellence. It requires hard work, preparation and hours of effort, but it’s worth it.

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