Overnight Success Doesn't Happen Overnight

An overnight success takes about 20 years.

After watching years and years of TV commercials, sitcoms, and dramas, we’ve been deceived. We’ve come to believe that most of our health and beauty problems can be solved in 30 to 60 seconds. And we’ve come to believe that our career problems and family difficulties can be solved in 30 to 60 minutes. That’s what the commercials, sitcoms, and dramas tend to imply.

So it’s no wonder so many people get depressed, bottom out, or give up when the tough times come. They mistakenly assume life and success should be quick and easy. And if it doesn’t come quick and easy … well … it just wasn’t meant to be.

Baloney! The truth is … the success you and I SEE in truly successfully people … is almost always preceded by a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. We SEE what looks like an overnight success, but we don’t HEAR about the 20 years of guts and gumption that preceded it.

Well I’m here to tell you that awesome success is possible … even probable … in your life … your job … your company … and your marriage … IF you have DETERMINATION. But that’s a mighty big word. What does DETERMINATION really mean and how do you get it?

=> 1. You’ve got to be very clear about what you want to accomplish.

You’ve got to KNOW what you want to accomplish. And you’ve got to SEE it accomplished long before you get there.

Without those two elements in place, your pursuit of any goal will most likely fade away … When the inevitable setbacks come your way. And you may mistakenly conclude it’s the end of the road … when in reality, it’s simply a turn in the road.

But when you KNOW exactly what you want to accomplish, you have tremendous stick-to-activity. You have DETERMINATION … as one man so clearly showed us.

After all, his track record gave him every reason to give up. And if you looked at his resume, you probably wouldn’t have hired him. The resume read …1832 defeated for political office in the State Legislature, 1833 failed in business, 1834 elected to the Legislature, 1835 sweetheart died, and 1836 had a nervous breakdown. During the next 24 years, he was defeated in his run for Speaker, defeated in his nomination for Congress, defeated in his run for the Senate, defeated in the nomination for Vice President, and defeated again in his run for the Senate. He only made it to Congress once. And in 9 out of his 11 tries for office, he failed.

But in 1860 he was elected as the 16th President of the United States … Abraham Lincoln … because he knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish. That’s why he never gave up. He had a picture of his goal that was so clear that he could see it in his mind’s eye.

I would humbly suggest that you and I need to be just as clear about what we want to accomplish if we’re going to have DETERMINATION.

And to help you with that process, I strongly recommend my CD album on “Mind Over Matter.” Becky Hazen did. She’s the owner of Blue Lake Sport. This is what she had to say, “I just want to thank you for helping me find my life again. In July I found out my husband had terminal cancer and he died in September. I not only lost my husband but my business partner for the last 31 years in a retail store. My life was turned upside down when he died, but I had a responsibility to our employees to make sure the business survived. To make matters worse, a large national competitor opened to the public the same day he died.”

“Then I ordered your ‘Mind Over Matter’ CD series. I was still riding the mood waves of grief and stress when they came. But I have faithfully listened to them for over a month every chance I have. I really feel the changes that have come over me are due to these wonderful CDs. I have actually made it through a week without breaking down and crying! The job before me doesn’t seem so overwhelming anymore, and my life is beginning to come together. I have a long ways to go, but with the help of these CDs, I’m making it. They always seem to be just what I need.”

Every successful person has tremendous DETERMINATION, and one of the ways they get that DETERMINATION is to stay very clear about what they want to accomplish. The second way to get more DETERMINATION …

=> 2. You’ve got to overcome obstacles.

You see … average people use obstacles as a reason to give up. Successful people see obstacles as a reason to keep on trying … even harder.

Such was the case with one young lady. She told all her friends she was going to be an actress. So she went off to drama school in New York City at the age of 16. But it wasn’t too long before her mother received a letter from the school saying, “Take her home. She has no acting ability whatsoever.”

But how could she go home? She had told all her friends she was going to be an actress.

So she auditioned as a showgirl in a musical … and got the job … without pay. Four weeks before opening night she was fired. She then auditioned for three other musicals, and each time she was hired and fired before opening night. Talk about obstacles. In two years she had not earned one penny as an actress.

Finally she got a job as a model, but that didn’t last long. She came down with pneumonia, ending up with severe pain in both legs. The doctor said she might never walk again and sent her to a New York City hospital as a charity case … where she spent the next several months. While there she hobbled around on crutches … then used a cane, having to wear 20 pound weights on her shoes. It was 2 years before she was well again.

Talk about obstacles. She had gone to New York City at age 16, and now by the age of 22 she had nothing to show for herself except obstacles she had learned to overcome.

And yet some years later in 1953, 29 million people watched TV as Dwight Eisenhower was inaugurated as President. 33 million people watched the coronation of Queen Elizabeth on TV. And 40 million people watched this actress’ first episode of the “I Love Lucy” show on TV.

Her name, of course, was Lucille Ball. From the very first episode, her show was rated as one of the top ten TV shows in America. And within 20 episodes, it became the number one show in America … where it remained for 5 years.

You see … some people think people like Lucille Ball just get discovered and success just falls in their laps. They think some Hollywood agent came up to her and said, “You’re a star. You will be one of the best. You will be one of the most loved comedians in America.” And thinking like that, some people just WAIT for success.

Other people get discouraged and QUIT because the only thing they see is the end result … the phenomenal success of a Lucille Ball. They think, “I could never be like that.” They fail to see the years of DETERMINATION she put into overcoming obstacles.

That’s why I said a so-called “overnight success” often takes a long time. You may not know, for example, how old Lucille Ball was when they aired her first episode on TV? And you may not know how old she was when her first child was born? In both cases, 40 years old.

So was Lucille Ball a success or a failure? If you read her fascinating life story, you realize she had been both. But ultimately she was a success because she had the second ingredient of DETERMINATION — the gumption to overcome obstacles.

And finally, if you’re going to ensure your own DETERMINATION …

=> 3, You must disregard unfairness.

We all know … deep down in our gut … and high up in our head … that life is not fair. It never has been and never will be. And no one ever said life WOULD be fair.

But a lot of people get stuck in the thought that life SHOULD be fair. And when it’s not, they get sad, angry, demotivated, and depressed … all of which can kill off their DETERMINATION.

So take a look at how you respond to unfair treatment. Someone else got the job or promotion that you deserved. Someone else got the credit for the work you did. And someone else got to take the trip you earned.

Well, we’ve all been the victims of unfair treatment. That’s not the important thing. What really counts is how you respond to these unfair experiences.

One young lady learned that. While she was a freshman at Ohio State University, she set the goal of becoming Miss Ohio, not only for the title but also for the scholarship that would finance her college education. So she entered a local contest, won the Miss Central Ohio pageant, went on to the Miss Ohio pageant, but didn’t even place among the top 10.

In her sophomore year, she entered the Miss Southern Ohio pageant, won that, and went back to the Miss Ohio contest. Here she placed in the final 10, but not the top 5. So after two unsuccessful attempts, she thought she may not have what it takes to be a winner. She was tempted to quit.

But in her junior year, when she found out the local pageant would be on her campus, she just couldn’t resist. She still had that spark of DETERMINATION inside herself. There were 143 girls in that pageant. And even though she forgot the words to her song during the talent portion of the contest, she won. She went back to the Miss Ohio pageant, placed in the final 10, placed in the top 5, and became the second runner up. For the third year in a row … in front of her family and everyone she knew … she lost.

Two days later, the state pageant office called and said,, Laurel, the judges did not understand the ballot. We recounted and you won. But we’ve already crowned the other girl as the winner, and there is nothing we can do about it. How unfair.

If you were Laurel, what would you have done. You might have gone to the press and said, “The title and scholarship are MINE.” But in the process, you would have embarrassed the girl who won. Her picture was on the front page of every paper in Ohio.

Laurel could have sued and picketed. She could have spent months of negative energy plotting how to respond to the situation. And there are times you should do that. But there are other times you’ve got to put an unfair experience behind you and move forward with positive energy.

That’s what Laurel did … because she understood … at an amazingly young age … that life is not always fair. The best person doesn’t always win. Mistakes can happen.

Rather than fret and stew, Laurel did something quite remarkable. She decided to try one more time. During her senior year in college, she entered the local pageant and won. She won Miss Ohio, went to Atlantic City, and became Miss America in 1972 … Laurel Schaefer.

Her story tells us the difference between success and failure could be the acceptance of the fact that life is not always fair, and winning often comes from the DETERMINATION to try just one more time.

Action:  Decide which of the three elements of DETERMINATION needs to be strengthened in your life. Write it on a card. Carry the card with you. Look at it several times a day for several weeks. And you will become more like the element you wrote down.