EMAIL #98 - 22ND, NOVEMBER, 2020 - THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN OVERNIGHT SUCCESS
Only two more emails until I pass the ton (the big C, #100, a century)! So the next few topics will be ones that I am especially interested in and are subjects that pull together several of the threads that I have written about this year.
In Email # 86 I wrote about the "meaning of success" and how it is important to find your own definition of success and to not compare your success with others. Today I would like to dig a little deeper into this topic and explore why it usually takes decades to really become successful and how shortcuts along the road to success can result in disaster. You often hear of people or businesses becoming an "overnight success", but reality and wisdom show that this is very rare and that generally "there is no such thing as an overnight success".
"A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence." Jim Watkins
There is a well-known theory that says, "it takes ten thousand hours of consistent practice to become really good at something." So according to this theory, if you devoted 4 hours per day for 5 days a week to practicing something it will take you 10 years to become really proficient. This theory is usually applied to creative pursuits such as learning a musical instrument, perfecting a specific type of art or learning a foreign language, but it also rings true for learning most professions or trades or for starting a new business. There is not a lot of luck or good timing involved, just 10 years of persistent practice, hard work and dedication.
This is not to say that some people are naturally more talented or gifted at something and this has a significant impact on their success. But raw talent is rarely enough to guarantee ultimate success. Even the most naturally gifted tennis player must practice every day for many years to achieve their full potential. Pablo Picasso once said, "it has taken me 40 years of practice to be able to draw a goat in 30 seconds". This statement is very powerful and relevant to me personally. 2020 is a significant milestone for me and my business because it marks 30 years since I first started DDB. It has taken the consistent hard work and the perseverance of many people over these 30 years to make this business a success. Although DDB has had some ups and downs over these 30 years and we are going through a particularly bad patch financially right now, I am very proud of the architectural homes we have built, the many awards we have won, the reputation we have earned and the lifestyle it has given me and my family.
"When you build a business, you're in it for the long haul and if you're not passionate about it, you'll give up for all the wrong reasons." Ben Silberman (founder of Pinterest).
For me the most important ingredient in the recipe for success is work ethic. It is all about showing up each day and doing good hard work, which for me has always been the easy part. On the flip side, for me the biggest barrier to achieving personal success has been overcoming my own fear and self-doubt. This is something I personally grapple with on a daily basis, but the consistent personal support and belief in me and my vision of those around me has enabled me to overcome these negative forces and keep moving forward. So, the last 30 years of hard work have well and truly been worth it. I still enjoy my job; I love running my own business and I am hugely proud of what DDB stands for and has achieved. And that is my definition of success!
"initiative and 10 years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success." Biz Stone
Thanks for reading,
Stay safe and here’s to another 30 years of DDB.