An actor gets noticed. A start-up gets acquired. An agency, like the famed Crispin Porter + Bogusky upon launching their ground-breaking anti-smoking “Truth” campaign. Even Justin Bieber, whose YouTube video skyrocketed him to stardom. All coined “overnight success” for their accomplishments. Even in business, Apple became an “overnight success” more than once, when the right person and going back to the formula was reapplied to launch them into juggernaut status once again.
Well, I’m calling BS.
It seems odd that no one really takes into account the hours, years, even decades, of hard work, heavy thinking, failed experiments and small wins along the way before someone jettisons into the stratosphere of success. In Beiber’s case, even at his young age, had put in hours of playing on sidewalks, pandering radio stations and practicing at home before what he did resonated with the right person. It seems that there’s an awful lot of love from smart people putting massive amounts of effort laying the foundation for all the overnight successes out there.
I challenge you to think of the many times you tried something that seemingly didn’t work, until suddenly, with the help of smart thinking, organized focus, a persistent team or a surprise missing element, you were somehow catapulted in a new trajectory toward success. Here are five ways to make everything you do become an “overnight” success:
5 Ways to Become an “Overnight” Success
1) Work Backwards: In order to know what you do will be a success, you have to start with defining what that even looks like to you. How do you define success? Your company? How will you benchmark it? Keep it simple, but get something on paper or you’re just spinning your wheels.
2) Tweak and Repeat: Our evolution into being a digital world means that nothing should ever stay the same. If you aren’t changing what you are doing from six months ago, simply put, you’re already behind. Everything needs a fresh pair of eyes and adjustment or it won’t be relevant.
3) Time is Irrelevant: Have you ever noticed time stands still when you focus on what makes sense for you in the moment? I set out two years ago to start a blog that I barely had any time to write, only to discover over time that my blogs were getting a response and a growing following. What I didn’t see coming was falling in love with thinking about things, and giving myself the gift to be alone with these thoughts. The ROI on my writing time alone is beyond measurement. I now approach each project this way, in knowing that I will most likely receive an ‘unexpected benefit’ I can’t foresee.
4) Answer a question with a question: How come? Why do you think? This is actually my favorite game to play with my kids. Most of the time, they have the answers and just don’t know it, or don’t have the confidence to make a decision without help. I truly believe the answer to most questions is in the next question we ask. I used to think it was hard to banter back and forth with someone, as I thought it was being argumentative. I’ve realized that it’s not, when you have equally passionate people around you who are trying to arrive to a decision together. And if they can’t handle it, it might just be the skill set you help them learn next.
5) Acknowledge success in others: I have to be honest and say that I’m not the best person in acknowledging things. But acknowledging success, both in yourself and others (even the little successes) is so important, because it gives you a frame of reference for what can be accomplished. Everyone needs support along the way, and making deposits in the karmic bank of appreciation I have seen pay off in spades.
KEY TAKEWAY: In order to become an “overnight success” yourself, focus on making those small but critical one-degree shifts that collectively add up to make a massive change. You never know… all those “overnights” you’ve put in may just be about ready to pay off.
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