• Eve Arnold

How to Become an Overnight Success — the Allure of the ‘Big Leap’

Photo by Dimitry Anikin on Unsplash


It is quite curious that we are all incredibly taken with the idea of ‘the big leap’. From corporate to working for ourselves… if we could only take the big leap. Stories of those people that have jumped into working for themselves and have gone so swimmingly, almost unbelievably so, make us jealous.

“Well, Jim did it didn’t he. Jim is no smarter than me so I could definitely do it, I just need to work out when to hand in my notice.”

If we can mustard up the courage to take that leap of faith, what is waiting on the other side is all riches and gold. But I think we’ve missed something here. It’s not the jump that leads to the success. The jump is the last bit in the practicality of working for yourself. The success comes from the hard work before it. It’s not the jump that we need to focus on, and to be honest I don’t think it’s a jump at all, it’s more like we build a bridge and walk across… let me explain.

This morning I tried to rack my brains through why we are so taken with this idea of the jump.

I started to think about it as two cliff edges, opposite one another. On one side stands you and the other side there is an empty cliff edge just waiting for someone to jump onto it. Trouble is, the gap is quite big. You wouldn’t normally fancy your chances because, well you haven’t really exercised in a while and quite frankly you’ve never really been much of an athlete.

So you have a couple of options:

  1. You jump and hope you land on the other side

  2. You work out a way to get a cross without having to jump, like building a bridge

The first option comes with some big risks or big reward. You could jump and make it across to the other side but you could jump and fall down. If you fall down you’ll have to find your way back up.

Option two is a lot less risky. You can take your time building your bridge and then you can walk across to the other side and walk back to the corporate cliff if you would like.

We see the likes of these successful people jumping left right and centre and think ‘well I can do that too’. But the reality is, they didn’t jump, they built a bridge. But building a bridge doesn’t sound as good.

The rule is that most people don’t just blindly jump from the corporate world into working for themselves. The gap is quite big and the chances are you’d fall down in between. And some people (though we never hear about them) do. They fall between and instead of finding they are living the high life working for themselves, bathing in money and sunbathing in Bali, they find themselves overwhelmed and having less time to do fun stuff, with less money. Headlines like ‘Ditch Your Corporate Job and Work for Yourself’ or ‘Why the Corporate World Doesn’t Work for Most of Us’ makes us think that the world gets us and that we are to be set free if we can just gather the courage to quit. But the truth is, it takes time to build anything.

It’s never been easier to start an online business. Across the world one thousand one hundred people sign up to open a shopify store per day. Per day. That’s forty five per hour. So with the ease of entrance comes a lot of competition. There is this quite frustrating idea that you open a shopify store, you find a product on Alibaba, you launch it within a week and you can quit your job the following week. Which is just not normally the case. Don’t get me wrong, some people do that, of course they do. Equally some people have stepped foot on the moon. I’m not trying to negative I’m trying to practical. Most people need to spend longer than two weeks on a new business before having guaranteed success.

In reality, people spend their lives building brand. The show up every day for a good while before seeing any kind of success. They start with small steps and keep on stepping everyday.

“All overnight success takes about ten years” Jeff Bezos

Mark Zuckerburg, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk. Put the time in.

J.K Rowling started with the idea of Harry Potter in 1990, the first edition wasn’t published until seven years later.

Seven years.

And there is no question that her work is totally brilliant. But before Harry Potter she worked as a teacher to pay the bills whilst writing her book on the side. She was building her bridge.

I think the reason we all think that we could start a business tomorrow and become the next big thing is because of the stories we read. Whenever you listen to someones success story, especially in interviews, they skip past the boring bit of eight years struggling and get straight to the good bit. The book signing, the six-figure deal or whatever. Because the nine words about the struggle was followed by five paragraphs about the success we think:

‘oh a little bit of hard work and you can achieve anything’

The thing is. Seven years is a long time. That’s proper graft. That’s not a little bit of hard work. That’s pretty relentless. You’ve got to really believe in what you’re doing and your craft.

There are differing theories between 10,000 hours, the five-year rule and many more. But one thing is for sure. People do not just jump and become successful.

They build their bridge.

Originally published at https://www.careerhealth.info on April 28, 2020.

#Growth #Self #Work #Success #SelfImprovement

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