We all love a good success story. Who doesn’t want to hear about the star athlete, remarkable actor or actress, novelist, or innovative company that took the world by storm? Seemingly overnight, we awake to find that person or that business on the cover of magazines, lining the evening news, or all over the Internet. When we hear, read, or see these stories, it is a far too common response to think they are an overnight success. But the truth is that most overnight success stories are actually often years in the making. If we were to dive a little deeper than the tip of the iceberg, we’d begin to understand the sweat, the blood, and the tears person after person sacrificed just to be that “overnight success.”
As far as the conversation goes regarding the lifespans of most businesses, Comfort Research is by all means a baby. But we are lucky to say that we have packed a lot into the past few years. It really was just about five years ago that our company started to really take off. In fact, Craig Hall, one of our advisors, reminded me, “It took you only 18 years to become an overnight success.” I still laugh about that moment, mostly because it is totally true. But it also reminds us of a valuable lesson—there is no such thing as an overnight success.
Every now and again you might find someone catch lightening in a bottle, but the reality is that sort of success is really just a rarity. A unicorn of sorts. For every overnight success there are thousands of companies that took years to truly take off. For us at Comfort Research, I am proud to say that our team worked for (and failed) years until we had that magical moment. And if I am being honest, it wasn’t even really a moment in the first place. We started to build momentum, and like a snowball rolling downhill, just built on the forces in play.
I pull no punches in sharing with people that we worked our asses off for many years. We earned it. And I am thankful for that struggle, for the setbacks, for the insight and opportunity to learn. Iconic furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames toiled for over six years attempting to bend wood in order to manufacture a very specific type of lounge chair. They finally figured out a solution, and they developed their Eames Lounge Chair in 1956. Their original manufacturer gave up on them, but The Eames Lounger is one of the most iconic pieces of modern furniture design to date. Just think about what might have happened if they gave up? Well for starters we wouldn’t have this awesome breakthrough.
I call it the slow success. And frankly I think and know from firsthand experience that it is absolutely the best kind of success. Why? Because it instills dedication, determination, and relentless effort inside of you. You’ll then be able to apply these same qualities to future projects, dreams, goals, and of course, challenges. Keep toiling. Keep trying. Success may not come overnight but it will come if you persevere. And the best part is you will be better (not worse) for it.
So the next time you read or hear about one of these overnight success stories, pause for a moment and maybe even ask some questions to determine just how many sleepless nights it took for that story to have a happy ending.
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