The Hidden Danger of Fast Success
When I started my first blog in 2009, I was completely enamored with the idea that starting a blog could eventually lead to a book deal. At moments, I was even envious of all the people I was interviewing on what would eventually become the Unmistakable Creative. I wondered when the day would come when it would be my turn. From the day I wrote my first post to the day I signed a book contract it was almost 7 years.
Is it possible that I could have written a proposal, and had a book deal sooner than that? Yes. But I”m really glad it didn’t turn out that way. Because it took as long as it did, I was able to develop the habits, the discipline, and the voice to write the book that I ended up writing. It’s a much better book than it would have been if I had experienced success early on.
In her book Still Writing, Dani Shapiro shares the story of one of her most talented writing students. Despite being encouraged by Dani to wait, she got an agent and sold her first book before finishing her MFA program. The book was published to little fanfare and a lukewarm reception from critics. She didn’t live up to her potential because she was in a hurry.
Ryan Holiday had the idea for The Obstacle is the Way several years before it was actually published. Not only that given his connections, he probably could have been introduced to an agent and publisher early into his career. But he waited. He committed more time to his craft and ended up writing a book that sold over 200,000 copies.
A few days ago Benjamin Hardy and I were chatting on Skype. He’s built a substantial presence in a short amount of time with really amazing content. When he asked me for my advice about writing a book, I said “Wait. A year from now you’ll even better than you are, and you’ll be capable of writing a much better book.” That conversation was what inspired the idea for this post.
When people are in too much of a hurry to succeed, they fail to live up to their full potential. They don’t put in the time that’s necessary to hone a craft. And a fast rise often is followed by a fast fall. What might have been a legacy becomes a one-hit wonder.
It’s something we’ve seen in every industry from books to startups to music. In our rush to succeed we become victim of the hidden danger of fast success.
I’m the host and founder of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast. Every Sunday we share the most unmistakable parts of the internet that we have discovered in The Sunday Quiver. Receive our next issue by signing up here.