Bob Tamasy: Truth About ‘Overnight Success’

Monday, September 23, 2013 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Have you ever met a true overnight success? Someone who was an absolute nobody doing absolutely nothing one day, then the talk of the town – in a good way – the next? I haven’t. The transition from “who’s he” to “Who’s Who” can happen overnight, but in reality the process of reaching that point takes years.

Unfortunately, it seems many people don’t understand that. I had a friend who used to say, “I love work – I can spend all day watching other people do it!” That’s the perspective some folks share these days: “I want success, and everything that comes with it – but not if I have to work for it.”

We hear talk about how we’ve “evolved” as a society. We’ve definitely made strides in some areas, including race relations, gender equality, and appreciation for different cultures. But in other areas, I’m afraid we’ve “de-volved.”

Work ethic, for instance. German sociologist Max Weber coined the term “Protestant work ethic” in the early 1900s. However, for many centuries the virtues of hard work, frugality and diligence have been central to the Christian faith, as well as some other belief systems. Working well and working hard can reflect one’s desire to honor God and serve others, part of our human calling.

But one needn’t be Protestant – or even a person of faith – to find worth in hard work. Inventor Thomas Edison stated, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” And poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Without ambition one starts nothing; without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.”

In today’s fast-food, microwave, “gotta have it now” world, unfortunately, fewer and fewer people seem willing to expend the effort necessary to succeed. They ask for silver platters, expecting to have everything handed to them. Where’s the fun, the fulfillment in that?

Writer and speaker Bill Hendricks reminded me of this when he observed: “Success is not an Egg McMuffin, delivered to us for a $3, three-minute investment. No, success is the Sistine Chapel – it takes years, pain, frustration, thousands of brushes, colors and crumpled up sketches before you have your masterpiece.”

Years ago during my first trip to Europe I marveled at glorious, exquisitely conceived and painstakingly created cathedrals, houses of government and mansions in Hungary, Austria and Germany. These structures all were centuries old, their longevity attributable to the many years required to construct them. Because they weren’t erected hastily and haphazardly, they stand today as living memorials to the blood, sweat and tears spilled to bring them to reality.

The pace of life today, of course, is faster. We feel pulled in multiple directions. As a result, many of us seek maximum returns with minimum investments. We find “get rich quick” enticing. We want “overnight success,” whether at work or at home, in our relationships or personal pursuits. If it requires time, initiative and energy, forget it.

This is sad, because much of the joy is in the journey, not just the destination. Having a dream, formulating plans and goals for realizing it, then investing whatever it takes to achieve it – that’s where you can find the joy.

Whether it’s the virtuoso musician, accomplished innovator, gifted speaker, acclaimed surgeon, or master craftsman, none of them achieved success overnight in their fields of endeavor. It took many years of study, practice, honing of skills, trial and error, risk taking and sacrifice making.

Maybe that’s why some young celebrities find notoriety quickly eclipsing their fame. Thrust into the spotlight too early, still green as performers, they don’t appreciate what it takes not only to attain success – but also to sustain it over the long term.

My favorite book, the Bible, speaks a lot about hard work and personal enterprise. The book of Proverbs itself serves as an excellent primer on the topic.

For example, “The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied” (Proverbs 13:4). It also warns against all talk and no action: “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23).

Another passage paints a vivid picture: “I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man” (Proverbs 24:30-34).

We’re living in an age of “entitlement,” when some segments of society view the poor and disadvantaged with pity, convinced their problems can be solved with handouts. What they really need, however, is a hand up – being offered the education, training and practical skills necessary for succeeding in the workplace.

At the same time, we need to re-embrace the virtues of hard work, the belief that determination, commitment and initiative will reap rewards as we persevere toward hopes and aspirations. It may take years, but if willing to work hard, anyone is entitled to become an “overnight success.”

---

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.


'It Really God Bad In A Hurry' Is Sunday's Topic At Middle Valley

Middle Valley Church of God announces that Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on the topic, 'It Really God Bad In A Hurry '  in the  10:30 a.m.  service this  Sunday .  This is part of a sermon series titled 'We Have To Find A Way To Fix This Problem.'  This new sermon series will focus on the need for redemption ... (click for more)

Bob Tamasy: Social Media Or ANTI-Social Media?

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, families gathered around campfires, wood stoves, or in gas-lighted parlors to talk, share stories, or recapture family memories. Or they congregated at a dinner table, not only to eat but also to converse. They’d ask mundane questions like, “How was your day?” – and actually wanted to hear the answer. Then devices called radios were ... (click for more)

Stubbs Arrested In Carjacking At Lakesite McDonald's; SWAT Team Takes Him Into Custody After Struggle At Dayton Pike Apartment

The Sheriff's Office has arrested Jonathan Casey Stubbs in connection with a Feb. 13 carjacking at the parking lot of the McDonald's in Lakesite. Stubbs, 28, who gave his address as Ringgold, is charged with carjacking, aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, resisting arrest, unlawfully carrying a weapon and three counts of violating probation on prior aggravated burglary ... (click for more)

East Ridge Makes Needy Child Fund 501(C)(3); Considers Using Former Fire Hall For High School Field House; Approves New Sign Ordinance

East Ridge has operated a fund for decades, which helps the less fortunate residents of the city. Often, those working with The Needy Child Fund hear of people that need help through the schools or neighbors. The fund helps provide food, coats and clothing to families, especially around Christmas when it also gives gifts to children that are delivered by the police and fire departments. ... (click for more)

CVB Should Share Financials With The Home Folks

The recent debate over the Convention and Visitor's Bureau's funding and budget has gotten ugly. A Hamilton County commissioner has asked questions and made comments about the CVB. The director of the CVB has organized a campaign to dismiss the commissioner's questions and comments. The children on the playground are choosing sides and nothing useful seems to be happening. It's ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Haggling Must Stop

Far be it for me to suggest the Hamilton County Commission and the School Board need to spend more time at recess but it was obvious this week the two groups need to work at being better friends. We have nine county commissioners and just as many corresponding school board members to work together for the betterment of one entity – Hamilton County. Everybody who thinks that is happening ... (click for more)