How To Become An Overnight Success

We’ve all heard interviews with people who became an overnight success.  Everybody wants to know how they did it.  We assume they must be unusually gifted or skilled or smart to have made it happen.


But they probably did it by becoming an overnight failure – over and over and over.

We assume that we could never be an overnight success, because we don’t have the same circumstances or opportunity.  Plus, we’ve had our share of overnight failure.

The difference? They kept trying after each failure.

EraserWD-40 is used in most households, and was considered an overnight success when it appeared on shelves.  But the company tried 39 times to create that product, and failed 39 times.  It was the 40th attempt that succeeded – which is why it’s called “WD-40.”  (WD stands for “Water Displacement.)

Angry Birds is one of the most successful video games of all times.  People were amazed at how it skyrocketed in popularity as soon as it was launched.  What they never mention are the 52 attempts it took to create it, and the eight years of effort that took the company to the brink of bankruptcy.

Overnight success takes place when preparation meets opportunity.

The key to success is in the daily choices we make over a lifetime.  The day-by-day consistency we practice is what prepares us with skill and ability and character.  When opportunity comes, we’re ready.

Most people neglect those daily investments because they’re only trying for the big win.  But when opportunity comes, they don’t have what it takes.

A person who becomes an overnight success knows that failure is part of the process.  They try things.  They experiment.  They fail.  But when they fail, they don’t see it as the end of the road.  They see it as one more thing they can check off that didn’t work – which moves them one step closer to success.

Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

If we have enough failures (and keep going), there’s a good chance we’ll become an overnight success.

If we avoid doing anything where we might fail, we’ll never learn – which means that when opportunity comes, it will just pass us by.

Mistakes are the breakfast of champions.


What have you learned from failure?