Don't buy the myth of the overnight success. "It takes years to make an overnight success," observed Eddie Cantor. Most of the people we celebrate for their effortless achievements have actually put a whole lot of energy into preparing for their victory. Yes, they make it look easy and they may even talk in a way that makes their success seem almost inevitable. But if you listen to them, you will usually find that they are working hard toward a compelling goal. It's the clarity of that goal – vivid, precise, focus – that makes their success seem unavoidable.
What they're not necessarily talking about (by the outward victory that we see), are the long lonely hours of practice and hard work that they subjected themselves to, or the many, many doubts they experienced along the way. I like this quote, "Some people dream of worthy accomplishments while others stay awake and do them."
I read that Adam Clark is reported to have spent 40 years writing his commentary on the Bible; Noah Webster laboured 36 years forming his well-known dictionary (in fact, he crossed the ocean twice to gather material needed to make the dictionary absolutely accurate); John Milton rose at 4 o'clock every morning in order to have sufficient hours to compose and rewrite his poetry which stands among the best of the world's literature; Edward Gibbon spent 26 years on his monumental book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; William Bryant rewrote one of his poetic masterpieces a hundred times before it was published just to attain complete beauty and perfection of expression; young Lee Chong Wei, now Malaysia's finest badminton player, sleep by 10 o’clock every night and is up by 5 o’clock, after he finishes his breakfast at seven, it is a whole day of non-stop regimented training. These men have a tremendous focus on what they were doing and each one threw all his energy into his effort no matter how difficult the job.
With hard work, practice and discipline, they were gaining complete confidence in their ability to do the things that they do. It is this discipline of hard work and training, investing those countless hours of practice that leads to mastery that takes a skill or gift from the conscious level to just second nature to them. "Achievement," said Mortimer Adler, "seldom exceeds effort."
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.