Unraveling Success

Article by Joan FriedlanderWe sometimes look with awe and envy when we see someone who we consider has made it. Why? Because we believe they must know something we don’t know, have something we don’t have — and maybe they do. They had a vision they were willing to fund with their time, energy, finances, and heart.

We don’t see the successful person in the very early stages of that great idea when he or she is planting the first seeds. Unless we are within their close circle of influence, we are completely unaware of others as they crash and burn through their uncertainty, doubts, and fears. I think the moment we become visible to others is the same moment when all of our hard work has finally paid off. Think about it. Any success story is only told in retrospect, not while the person’s success is still under development.

Let’s take a look behind the scenes and consider what it takes to be an “overnight success.”

No matter how long or short the road to it, seemingly sudden success starts with an idea. But the idea doesn’t become a viable product overnight. You first have to name it, decide on your direction, the impact you wish to make, your target market, how you are going to do it, what help you need, and so on.

After you have put some of the pieces together, you are ready to try your idea out on the world. (Sometimes the world consists of just a few close friends.) You then realize you were off a hair or two. So you go back to the drawing board, trim a little here and add a little there. This is the tender, vulnerable stage of any project. It’s susceptible to your own second-guessing and all possible nay-sayers. Your precious idea can just as easily shrivel up as it can begin to germinate.

Sometimes the idea does dry up. You realize it’s not quite right, your heart’s not in it, or some circumstance demands that you put it aside. But, I do think that if the idea was born from the very depths of your soul, it never fully dissolves. You will meet up with it again and again, and if you never do anything to nourish it, it could end up being the regret at the end of your life, or the dissatisfaction that you can’t quite seem to shake.

On the way to your “sudden” success, you may hit a period when all of your efforts appear to be for naught, or at least for very little. It seems as if no matter what you do, you can’t quite make your numbers.

Life is not glamorous when your hard work hasn’t yet paid off. As a matter of fact, it sometimes sucks. We are so conditioned to measure our success by our results rather than our actions that we don’t acknowledge ourselves when our efforts don’t immediately pay off the way we think they should. Instead, we subject ourselves to self-criticism, doubt, anger, and the negative comments of others.

We don’t see one yes and five nos as a win. There’s a saying in the sales world: One more “no” brings you closer to a “yes.” But when you are smack in the middle of this period — still on the road to your “sudden” success — you’ll be hard pressed to remember this.

But if you don’t give up, and you effectively use all the feedback the universe has so generously given you, finally, something happens. All of a sudden you don’t have to work quite so hard. Results show up “out of the blue,” from seemingly unlikely places. You focused on A and got a result from B. People begin to seek you out. People think they’ve heard of you or your product. “Miraculously,” people find themselves needing just what your company has to offer at just the right time.

And this is also the exact moment when you become visible to the rest of us. This is when we first notice you. We think how amazing you are. We think we wish we were like you. We wonder what secret you have that we don’t have, what good fortune must have come your way. Then we think of our own tiny seed of an idea, and wonder, “Could I do that?”

What we decide in that moment determines the outcome. Fortunately for most of us, we have many moments in which to decide the answer to this question. But unfortunately, some of us take quite a few years to answer it with “Yes!”

So, the next time you see a successful someone doing something that you wish you could do, allow their success to inspire you. Let it light a spark under your own precious idea. Tell yourself that if they did it, you can too. All successes begin as nothing more than an inspired idea, but then you need to stick around for the miracle.

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