What You Need to Know About Overnight Success

overnight success alan philips mobile
American Stock/Getty Images

There is no such thing as overnight success. Everything that results in sustainable fulfillment requires patience, overcoming of obstacles and persistence. The majority of successful people you read about lose (a lot) before they win.

Popular culture doesn’t reinforce this truth. It’s rarely realistic about the journey to success—its length and arduous nature. The truth is discovered while you’re on the journey, which makes it a form of earned knowledge.

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Green Bay Packers practice kicking in preparation for their game against the New York Giants in 1934 / Bettmann/Getty Images

Popular culture lets down our young people, especially, when it comes to this truth. They deserve honest guidance, knowledge and inspiration, but very often our culture hands them impossible dreams and irrational expectations, emphasizing faster, younger, bigger, more, more, more. Did you make the 30 under 30 list? Honestly, who cares?

In your life, your career, your relationships, you’re best served by taking the high road and the long view. Do what’s right and build long-term value and meaningful connections.

Anything less is compromised.

Fulfillment is earned.

Hard work put toward something you care deeply about, over a long period of time, yields sustainable fulfillment and the increased likelihood of positive outcomes.

Success is iterative.

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Redskins quarterback Sonny Jurgensen and Coach Vince Lombardi during practice / Bob Peterson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

You have an idea. You take actions to manifest and share that idea. You observe the results of your action. If you achieve your desired outcome, you continue on that path. If you do not, you make changes, improve and slowly move closer to your desired outcome. You will most likely not get it right the first few hundred times. But if you are doing something you truly care about, you will continue on your path.

You will persist.

This idea of constantly iterating, tweaking, again and again, is the least publicized part of the creative process. Not because it is uncommon. This aspect doesn’t get the spotlight because it’s not sexy. But the grind is where the work is really done. It’s what separates the never-was from the good, the good from the great, and the great from the best of the best. These are levels of achievement directly proportional to how much iteration is done.

True success requires constant, relentless iterating. And that takes time.

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