What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about these people?
For most people, they all represent overnight success…instant fame.
After all, who doesn't like an overnight success story?
Society loves winners but doesn't want to hear about failures.
The romantic story stitched together is that these high-achievers just rolled out of bed one day, diddled around a little bit, then BOOM! were overnight successes.
The media floats on drama. They want you to believe the fictional story that a rocket rise to fame is commonplace.
All you have to do is be good at something, and the flower of success instantly blossoms, followed by a truck full of money dumped on the front porch.
All you have to do is risk it all as those passionate entrepreneurs did, and you too will be a celebrity overnight.
Why, it’s practically guaranteed! It is the stuff dreams are made of…
And that is exactly what it is: a dream. A fictional story.
And what happens to those who start pursuing their dreams with that mindset?
Disaster, as they stumble through the real story.
The hard and rocky path.
Because the truth is, starting their project from scratch from those four men – Jordan, Bezos, Musk, and Mike – was not as easy as the popular creative media made it appear.
They failed first…often many times.
And hard work was their constant companion.
They had many problems, obstacles, and challenges to overcome.
If no one informed them, they soon discovered that opportunities were not simply lying around.
They found it would take a long time before they could even start to see some results.
Those who believe the hype of overnight success, and thought it would be easy, end up frustrated and discouraged.
They usually lose all their motivation, and then often make that self-defeating decision.
What is the kernel of the truth about how this happens?
They were fed a plate of false expectations right from the start.
Okay, now we have a diagnosis…
What is the cure?
How can we avoid this from happening to us?
How can we establish the right mindset for ourselves?
First we must face the truth: There is no such thing as “overnight success.”
We need to lay this out a bit more clearly…
Nobody knew who Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos was before they started making millions.
The media only let us know about them after they had won!
My stepfather, Jim Arnold, was a newspaper copy editor. He told me several times. “The name of the game is to keep people’s eyes in your newspaper.”
You do that by creating drama…excitement…wonder…even disgust.
You want to arouse people and hold their attention…because if they are not reading your paper, they are not seeing the ads. And if they are not seeing the ads, they are not buying the items. And if they are not buying the advertised items, the business will pull their ads and go elsewhere…to radio, another newspaper, a magazine, billboards…whatever pays off.
Because people just want the drama. Contrast. “Eye candy,” Jim called it.
That's the only thing people want to hear about.
Nobody wants to hear about the laborious hours spent perfecting the craft or the business that eventually paid off. Skip to the champagne popping part! The rest is dreary. Boring. People will stop reading!
They don’t want to hear about the struggles of the famous person. They already know about struggling…that is what they are trying to escape by reading your paper, or listening to your radio show.
Did you know that Paypal, one of Elon Musk's most successful companies, was voted as ‘the Worst Business Concept of the Year’?
Did you know Amazon had a $2.2 billion debt before it became profitable?
Did you know that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school’s varsity team because he wasn’t good enough? And even after he was an NBA player:
“I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot . . . and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan
Then there was Mike B.
My friend, also a Michael, decided he wanted a Wendy’s franchise. He had a perfectly good professorship but wanted to make “big money” – so he resigned and bought a Wendy’s franchise. It cost him $500,000 just to have the right to put up a Wendy’s sign…which he also had to buy from them. Then he had to float another loan for $750,000 to buy the lot and build the building. It took 3 months to build the Wendy’s building, while the loans were piling up interest as he was making not a cent.
Mike spent a month going through training, then another month hiring and training staff. Mike had long stories no one wants to hear, but I was his friend. Friends listen. The list of problems he faced were endless. Health inspectors, dealing with tradesmen – plumbers, electricians, carpenters, painters, asphalt workers, roofers, and designers, restaurant suppliers, food, kitchen equipment…it stretched on forever. And Mike had to be there for every single interaction. He was the boss.
By the time they opened he was almost $2,000,000 dollars in debt and, still, not a cent of income…and the interest on the loans was eating him alive.
Then the real work began. Mike worked 7 days a week. He was there every day. Got there 2 hours or more early to clean the parking lot, see if the restrooms were clean, checking on supplies, cranking up the fryers, inspecting the floors under the booths, checking for insects.
As Mike put it,
“I was at war with ants, mice, rats, spiders, silverfish, and roaches from day one – and it never ended. One day I hear a shriek from a booth and rush out to find this woman who had discovered a live giant cockroach beneath the wax paper liner in her little red basket of food. I could not believe my eyes! I spent a fortune on the pest people, inspected for bugs all the time, and here was a damned 2-inch cockroach beneath someone’s food! Well, didn’t that get around town! I almost went out of business in my second month because of ONE BUG!”
It was almost 3 years before Mike turned his first dollar of profit.
“I worked for the bank and went home smelling of meat every night for 3 years. My wife divorced me, took custody of my two kids, even took the dog. I did not frame the first dollar we took in. I DID frame the first dollar of profit. I dated it and it was 2 years and 11 months and 4 days from the day I took out the loans until they were paid off and I was operating in the black. I sold the franchise less than 3 months later.”
Mike was paid almost $2,000,000 for his Wendy’s restaurant. But he lost everything.
“I was living in a furnished efficiency apartment downtown above a bar. I was only there to take a shower, sleep 5 hours, put on a clean uniform and leave for work. That became my life.”
The town newspaper wrote an article about Mike. The headline? Local Professor – Millionaire!
“I hadn’t been a professor for four years. The reporter kept asking me ‘my secret for success’ but did not want to hear about the endless days of grinding work and sleepless nights poring over my spreadsheets because my accountant was terrible and I did not trust him and I was the one that had to deal with the IRS and Wendy’s. You are always attached to Wendy’s no matter what. It’s part of the deal. The newspaper did not want to hear about my having to constantly deal with the grumpy customers, and cheating tradespeople, and my stealing, and often absent, employees that I had to fill in for. Those were all local people and “We don’t want to offend anyone, Mike,” he said. Like hell I didn’t! But the article was all cutesy and heart-warming and inspiring to all those who wanted to become overnight millionaires. Tony, I had to have a therapist! I had so much built-up anger and bitterness…mostly at myself. I was fully aware that I had asked for it, and, baby, I got it…in spades.”
None of them were an overnight success.
It required years of trial-and-error learning, and a lot of perseverance, to get where they wanted to be.
Nothing was given to them.
They earned it.
This is where the story gets hot!
When you truly understand they earned their success, something either changes within you OR it doesn’t. One way or the other you win.
If you do not gain meaningful insight from these REAL stories of success, then you are happy just settling for an hourly wage or salary. And that is OK. It really is.
The point is to enjoy life. And if it makes you happy working for someone else, and they have all the headaches of entrepreneurship so you can take home a paycheck, so be it. Nothing to be ashamed of whatsoever. We need all kinds in this world to make it work. We need risk-takers and we need play-it-safers. We need entrepreneurs and we need salaried and hourly wage earners. BOTH are important.
If you DID get significant insight from these stories, then something shifts inside.
Your motivation is no longer diminished when problems appear.
You can prepare yourself and your loved ones for the journey.
You and they are no longer discouraged by bad situations. (Well, not for long anyway 😉)
Even when you fail, you will have the motivation you need to keep moving forward and succeed. Why? Because you know that every failure is one step closer to success.
You will have that stamina you need because you know what to expect and you will be ready to face it.
Talk to your family. Don’t put on a cheery face when you don’t feel it. Band together and face the facts as a unit. Everyone is helping just by doing that.
You and they know for a fact that challenges and struggles will be part of the journey.
And through it all you will all have the strength to conquer and overcome all obstacles.
This is the essential mindset.
You have learned that success is a journey, not a final product.
But then…there IS FAST success!
But if you DO want to see actual FAST results….that is a different matter. Check out my friend Vick! You won't believe it, but DO, because I was there!
Dr. Anthony Dallmann-Jones is a professor, published author, and investor. He is an entrepreneur and has failed and won. But now he lives debt-free and owns two homes…one on the beach. He nurtures and encourages entrepreneurs to stay the course. “Victory is always there and, all too frequently, people stop one foot short of a miracle. That is why I do what I do. I truly dislike seeing human potential wasted, and not blossoming like it can with proper support, knowledge, and encouragement.” His coaching is available. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org