Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It Didn't Happen Overnight

Just the other day I reunited with some old high school friends - some of whom I hadn't seen in over ten years. Besides the small talk, there was catch up conversation around what we are doing & who we have become over the last decade -- in other words, a peak behind the curtains of Facebook!

To me, there weren't many surprises. In fact, the only surprise (which was more of an eye-opener than anything), was several comments about being 'lucky' and the perception that my current success had happened overnight; something far from the truth. 

For me, I think some may have forgot that...
  • I was one of the few people from my high school group that went on to Post-Secondary education. A 5-year commitment that required focused & dedicated efforts to further myself in life.
  • During University I worked full-time (40hrs+) as a manager of a sports complex to provide me with the financial stability to purchase a house when I was 21 – let alone apply my education.
  • After University I studied, surveyed, and applied at several businesses – one of which I was denied the first time and was told to get further experience.
  • My persistent attitude drove me back to re-apply (to the employer that turned down my first application) and low and behold it paid off.
  • This May it will be my 10 year anniversary with the same company – something that is rare in todays’ business world.
  • During those 10 years, I was committed to the organization, the brand, and the overall results that I could deliver on. Whether that meant working long hours, going above & beyond the 9-5pm mentality, or wearing & talking of the brand like I had founded it – it became a key element of who I was.
  • This mentality (and work ethic) provided me the opportunity to buy a franchise. And although a great opportunity – it was also a great risk. It was the company’s first true franchise that cost close to 500k and at 23 yrs of age…it was a lot to chew off!
  • From here it was 5 years of relentlessly doing whatever it took to drive revenue’s and reduce expenses. This included moping the floors at night, cleaning the business on the weekends, and staying up late to cover shifts when your first employees quit.
  • I wasn’t out boating with the boys, flying down to Mexico to enjoy some tequila shots, or scooting off to the latest club downtown…I had made a commitment and I was determined to exceed expectations & meet the amount of responsibility that something like this required.
  • And as I look back 10 yrs later, my ride has been nothing short of amazing. Business ownership. House ownership. Marriage. Travel. Adventure. Learning opportunities. But all of this didn’t come without a level of sacrifice, effort, and patience.
And although there’s a natural tendency for people to look at success stories, whether they’re people or businesses, and think that they happened overnight, it’s rarely true. In reality, we know that business success takes time. It's subtle. It's seldom the result of one smart decision, but usually lots of smart decisions repeated often, over time. Often by the time we’ve heard of the success stories, they are already successful. But what we don’t normally see or hear about is how much time and effort they’ve already spent on their passion or careers. All the sweat and tears before they “made” it.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Angry Birds, it’s one of the most successful mobile games ever. But what you may not know is Angry Birds is the 52nd game that Rovio made. Eight years and a near bankruptcy later, they finally created their massive hit.

And then there is being ‘lucky’ – that too normally doesn’t just happen. In fact, it rarely happens. Oprah says it best, “luck is when opportunity meets preparation" – there simply needs to be a level of preparation to take advantage of any opportunity.

So, if there was an advice that would come from my personal experience, it would be this...
  1. Success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes 5 years to get to the start line – and then another 5 years to run the race (not cross the finish line).
  2. If you are looking to advance your career – start with effort & follow it up with longevity and patience – they will pay off exponentially.
  3. You will need to sacrifice something along the way. If you try to be everything to everyone, you will be nothing to no one.
There are no shortcuts. If you want to get from point a to point b -- the easiest and fastest way is a straight line. Now off to the races and keep in mind the tortoise's patience can beat out the rush of the hare. 

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