Overnight success takes a long time!

You get a lot of questions when you work in Human Resources.  One of the most common has been about how to get better. People everywhere want to know how they can be better in their job, department, team and company.  I haven’t met anyone that doesn’t want that same success in their personal life, that’s really where it starts and matters most.

I’ll share a secret that’s not so secret–  all overnight successes start with 1,000 repetitions.  Doesn’t overnight success mean that it happens fast, overnight kind of fast?  What about natural talent and natural born leaders?  Yes, they are out there but most people who are good at anything do it many times– even if they were born with super talent.

If necessity is the mother of invention, repetition is the mother of learning.  Successful people will tell you they have a simple recipe for success:

  • They repeat but they don’t stop there.
  • They have a plan.
  • They don’t just repeat, they take the basic motions or mental operations they learned and practice them in new situations.

Great athletes, mathematicians that seem like they might be robots because they are so quick and even larger than life people like Michael Jordan and Steve Jobs use the same recipe.  They focus on what they want to accomplish and they work to excel at it regardless of the challenges.

Everyone wants to know the secret of success, and there is one.  It’s called:  Continuously learning to do what you don’t know how to do.  This isn’t a new idea and it’s far from being a secret.  Why does success continue to elude so many of us? If people that weren’t born with superhuman talent really have a chance at becoming the best of the best, why doesn’t it happen?  Ask anyone to list the failures of someone like Walt Disney, Ben Franklin or Steve Jobs and chances are they will have a hard time with the question.  Rejection, the fear of failure and the sting of actual failure are too much for some people.  Successful people find ways to move beyond these inevitable setbacks. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”  Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job as a newspaper anchor.  Today Oprah has a media empire worth more than $2 billion.  There are hundreds of true stories about successful people who failed and failed in a big way.

Don’t let fear stop you.  Your potential for success is largely up to you.  When the fear of making a mistake or failure have stopped you in your tracks, accept the fact that there will be failures.  You will make a mistake and the chances are you will make some big mistakes.  Accept that and move on.  There is a freedom waiting for you once you acknowledge what your family and friends could have told you…you’re not perfect and that’s ok.  You’re not perfect, you will make mistakes, people will tell you your idea will never work and others will tell you you are not good enough.  The great thing about letting go of the fear is that you won’t be standing around listening to all that negativity.  You will be busy learning, practicing and refining your skill until you are the best.

As a manager, I don’t want to hire the person with the highest IQ.  I want to hire, teach, develop, learn from and promote learners and repeaters!  As a parent, this is the secret I am passing on to my children.  As an individual, I freed myself from olDress-1d fears and no longer view a setback as a failure.  It’s a necessary step on the road I have chosen to take.amaya

It’s never too late.  Some of us are late bloomers in life.  Vera Wang became a billionaire as a famous designer but she didn’t start designing wedding dresses until she was 40 years old.  Maya Angelou was 41 when she published her memoir, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.  She made history when it became the first non fiction best selling book by an African American woman.

Now you know the secret.  Pass it on.  Go forth and prosper and may the force be with you!

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