First, let's clarify: "No great thing is created suddenly" - Epictetus.
Success doesn't just instantaneously materialize out of thin air; however, it can certainly appear to happen suddenly.
We have become an impatient culture. With the speed of life, and our ability to quickly and easily satisfy virtually all our whims, we have come to expect that whatever we want will happen almost right away ... provided that our wants are small, unambitious and painfully realistic.
To create "great", we instinctively know that it takes time, persistence, and focus. Whether it be a remarkable work of art, a Stanley Cup win, or a successful business, no great thing is suddenly achieved. So why do we as a culture consistently expect different results?
Here's what I've come to learn about "sudden" success:
1. What happens suddenly, disappears suddenly.
Only things with a strong foundation can withstand the tests of time. In business, creative marketing can often generate short-term results and create the illusion of scope and size, but sustainable growth is built on solid fundamentals.
Action: Invest time to clearly define the core fundamentals of your offer and allocate resources to build a strong foundation so that your business can support itself through the rough patches and grow into its deep roots.
2. "Suddenly" isn't always sudden.
Every once in a while, a new business shows up on the scene and seems to be an instant success. If that business survives and continues to thrive, there's always a back story. Behind the scenes, there has been a long history of activity, mistakes made, and lessons learned. There is no such thing as sudden sustainable success.
Action: Identify the key elements of your back story to help you craft a better future.
3. There's a magic moment.
Malcolm Gladwell refers to this moment as “The Tipping Point”. In every business, no matter how big or how small, there is a period in time when the tides turn and a swell starts to happen. The shift in momentum can be for the better or the worse, depending on the foundation, the persistence and the commitment of its leader. When the business owner or leader believes in ultimate success, without a shadow of doubt, and continues to operate with that unwavering conviction, success will happen. It may not happen as originally expected, and there may be a few bumps and rocky patches along the way as the foundation is being reinforced, but there will be a moment in time when the tides will turn and success will appear "suddenly".
Action: Do what it takes to ensure that you have absolute confidence in your business to get momentum on your side.
4. Momentum builds on itself.
No matter what direction you're headed, momentum will work for you. Some businesses are stagnant without even knowing it - they are "doing lots" but "achieving little" and momentum is flat. Some are slowing dying, but would rather not face it, so they avoid making those smart decisions that can shift momentum to be in their favour. Smart business leaders ensure that they create and build positive momentum.
Action: Accurately assess your current situation. Face the facts and look at reality to build momentum in the right direction.
5. Greatness is the result of the little things.
In business, there is no flying leap to success. Although we are led to believe that it's possible, a sudden, quantum leap to a new level of success is not sustainable. When you hear these stories, remember that there was a great deal of planning, building, and quiet preparation that happened in the background before that big jump was taken. Long-term success is the result of many little things, consistently in play, developed and mastered over time.
Action: Identify the little things in your business that need more attention.
6. Success is relative.
Fortunately, there will always be someone who does it better. They teach us, and help us stay motivated and inspired. However, when we decide to seek the wisdom of those around us, self-awareness is absolutely critical. Be careful about who you choose to support your ambition as mentors, motivators, and friendly competitors. Your personal success must be uniquely defined by you, and if you fall into the trap of assessing it according to the standards of others, you will never fully experience "sweet success".
Action: Revisit your personal foundation to ensure that you and your business stay true to your own values and personal goals.
So, although no great thing is created suddenly, it can often feel as if you've suddenly got something great.
Until next time, enjoy the journey, pay attention to the little things, and create your success, differently.