It’s all just an illusion

By Michelle Roberts, Deputy Editor, Creating Wealth

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you’ll know that a little thing called the Olympics just happened.

And Team GB did rather well indeed with one of, if not the, best performances ever.

Already there is talk of honouring the medallists with yet more medals and titles many of them could only dream about at the start of August.

And the British media can’t seem to get enough of it all. Fame and fortune looks set for many of the athletes who shone in Rio.

Some of the athletes have experience of this already as a result of their success in London 2012 but, for others, it will be a completely new experience.

For some, in the mere minutes it took for them to win their events, their lives changed forever.

They’ve achieved the ultimate success in their careers; fulfilled their life-long dreams and gone from a name no one has heard of, to a national treasure, literally overnight.

Only it hasn’t been overnight has it?

I mean, look at Mo Farah. After his success at the 2012 Olympics, not only did he achieve the goal he’d set out to attain, he became a household name.

In just two races (lasting less than an hour combined), Mo’s life changed completely…

He became a CBE and gained sponsorship deals with Nike, Quorn and Virgin Media, making him a personal fortune of about £4 million.

But even though his success came within a short space of time during London 2012 — it was the result of a long hard slog over a very long space of time beforehand.

Mo has been running and competing since his was 13 years old, and suffered many setbacks along the way (including not even making the final in the 5,000 metres in the 2008 Olympics).

And since his success in 2012, Mo has not rested on his laurels. He didn’t suddenly stop and decide to enjoy the fruits of his labour…

In order to maintain his success and stay as the best athlete in his field, Mo has had to work harder than ever — running more miles a week during training than seems humanly possible.

Check out his training schedule:

Achieving and maintaining his success is the result of thousands upon thousands of hours’ hard work. It hasn’t been easy. It was no walk in the park.

Overnight success is just an illusion

Often we see someone gain huge success very quickly…

It could be an actor that was unheard of six months ago but is now the toast of Hollywood…

A band that go straight to number one in the chart with their debut album…

Or a small start-up business that becomes a global phenomenon in the space of a few months…

And we label them an “overnight success”. We envy the fact that they’ve hit the big time so quickly and hope that one day we could be that “lucky”.

But here’s the thing…

Overnight successes don’t actually exist. They are, in fact, nothing more than an illusion.

All we see is them hitting the big time — we don’t see all the struggles that came before.

We don’t see that the ‘toast of Hollywood’ went through 10 years of rejection and was working as a bartender to make ends meet. Or that the band spent years playing old mens pubs to less than enthusiastic audiences. Or that the people behind the start-up were literally on the last throw of the dice…

As Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter — which itself was hailed as an “overnight success story” after the rapid rise in its global popularity — said:

“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”

Twitter may have seemed like an overnight success to many, but Biz and his team had been creating social media products (none of which took off) for a decade before Twitter tweeted its way in to our hearts.

And Twitter isn’t the only “overnight success” story that was years in the making…

PokemonGo has taken the world by storm. In just a few short months since its launch it has amassed millions of users worldwide. But its creator, John Hanke, has spent the past 20 years honing his skills as a multiplayer app creator.

Remember Psy? The South Korean one-hit wonder that sprung from nowhere to became a global “overnight sensation” with his song Gangnam Style? He had in fact released six albums in his home country before hitting the big time.

AirBnb may seem like a new kid on the block. But it may surprise you that it’s actually been around since 2008 and its success has been more steady growth than overnight spurt.

Success is never an easy, overnight, occurrence. It’s the result of years of hard work and dedication.

The biggest cause of failure

Underestimating how much time it takes to become successful in any part of life — whether it’s health, education or career related — is the biggest cause of failure.

In a world that is constantly switched on and where we can seemingly get whatever we want at the touch of a button — we’ve become to expect instant gratification and instant results.

We want it all and when do we want it? Right now!

Especially when it comes to building wealth — that’s why so many of us still religiously play the lottery every single week.

As Mark Ford, founder of our Wealth Builders Club pointed out here — the desire for instant results is “a big reason why so many perfectly smart and hard-working people never break free from the ‘chains of financial slavery’.”

With odds of 1 in 14 million, winning the lottery is likely to never happen. For most of us the only way to build a wealthier life is by playing game we don’t want to play: the long game.

For Mark, that long game is seven years — and his Wealth Builders Club aims to give members everything they need to build wealth in that time.

But even that is too long for some people — as Mark explained here.

Expecting instant results is the reason why many people fall for fad “wonder diets” or get scammed by “get-rich-quick” schemes. And it’s the reason why many people fail at simple long-term healthy eating diets or running their own business.

They completely underestimate how much hard work and time is really involved and how long it will be to start seeing results.

But look back at all the success stories I’ve shared with you over the past few months: Mark Cuban, Joseph Banford, Chris Dawson, Denise Coates, JK Rowling. All of those people took years to finally achieve the success they dreamed of.

Look at Mo Farah — he finally won Olympic gold in 2012 at the age of 29. He’d been running since he was 13. That’s 16 years of hard work and commitment.

If there is one thing that we can learn from Mo and everyone who performed well in Rio, and indeed from all the success stories I’ve mentioned today it is this:

Success is a marathon, not a sprint.

And if you want it — you’ve got to be prepared to go the distance.

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