Myth of Overnight Success and Magic Pills

In business, in fitness, in health, in life, in anything requiring effort, we want there to be, well, no effort. It’s natural to want rewards without the sacrifices. Sacrifice sucks. Effort is work. Rewards are pleasurable. Who wouldn’t want more of the latter and less of the former?

The trouble is, there is no such thing as reward without effort. We all intuitively (I hope) know this. Yet, we are surrounded by some mainstream and social media that show a mirage of overnight success stories and magic pills. These stories fuel our weakness for desiring easy returns.

The problems with this are:

  1. The more we hope for rewards without effort, the less willing we are to work for what we want, thus the less likely we are to achieve what we want.
  2. We miss the opportunity of gratitude. The journey disguised as effort bring us lessons, that in turn bring us personal growth, if we allow ourselves to “fail” upward.

Let’s destroy the myths and learn to appreciate the journey that will get us where we want to go.

Why There’s No Overnight Success

In business, what looks like overnight success is really just heightened awareness on the part of consumers and/or investors of a product or service. What you don’t see and don’t always hear about are all the failed prototypes, marketing strategies, pitches, slammed doors, disconnected calls, and unanswered emails the founders no doubt experienced. Successful business men and women are successful because they persevered in spite of the “no’s” and learned from their mistakes. They failed upward. Here’s a great list of some of them via Entrepreneur.

Here’s another example from a different type of industry. Most people in my life today don’t know this, but I once worked in the film/TV/theater/music industry. One of the biggest misconceptions is that there are overnight breakout stars. Actors, for example, cast in a lead film or TV role whom you’ve never seen before, and they’re amazing, and you think, “Hmmm, where did he/she come from? Never seen him/her before!”

What you haven’t seen are the years of auditions, hopes for auditions, no’s, never’s, and cancelations that said actor went through to finally get their “breakout” moment. (Connie Britton is a good example. And in this case, you can read about her journey in the New York Times Magazine)

When it comes to social media, most of us post our joys not our sorrows. Social media is called the highlight reel. This isn’t true for all, of course. But true enough. There’s a reason people joke that they hope their life is one day as good as their Facebook feed.

Why There’s No Magic Pill

When it comes to weight management and aesthetics, hopefully you’ve realized by now there is absolutely no magic pill. The only magic bullet is the Magic Bullet blender that is great for making all sorts of concoctions (including this one).

Jokes aside, diet pills and fad diets don’t work in the long run (or sometimes in the short run) because you never develop the habits that serve as the foundation for change. You have to build a lifestyle that supports the goals you want to achieve.

Why The Effort is the Magic

Take a second and imagine that as soon as you’re done reading this post, you’ve achieved what you’ve been hoping for. Your promotion came through, your project got funded, you got the part, or you hit your body fat percent goal. Whatever it is, you’ve received it. Magically. Enjoy that for a moment.

Ok moment is up. Now what? What are you going to do to keep it? If it’s a promotion, could you be the leader you have to be to support that position and the people under you? If it’s a project, could you hit your numbers without have struggled through presentation after presentation to before learning the art of presenting? If it’s a lead role, could you keep your nerves under control having not worked your way up in progressively larger parts? If it’s weight management, could you maintain it without having developed the habits vital to continued success?

The answer to all of those is no. You couldn’t. The effort, the journey, is packed with ups and downs that shape you into the person you need to be to live the life you’re dreaming of. If, that is, you embrace the journey, accept the effort, and are open to it shaping (read changing) you.

Whenever you set your sights on a goal, or catch yourself wanting, ask yourself what it will take to get there. Then ask if you’re willing to do it. If not, you should reevaluate what you think you want. If so, start making short-term action goals that will get you to the big time pay-off.

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