In Aesop’s fable about the goose and the golden egg, the farmer visits his goose’s nest one day and finds a golden egg. Morning after morning, he collects a solid gold egg from the goose and becomes very rich. One day, hoping to get all his goose’s gold at once, he killed the goose, only to discover the goose was empty.
“Success is not a get-rich-quick scheme,” said motivational author Glenn Van Ekeren. “It is, however, a day-by-day process. Short-term personal profits are not synonymous with long-term prosperity.”
Don’t be like the farmer and ruin your chances for long-term success by being impatient.
One of my friends gave me this advice, which I have followed faithfully over the years. Before you go to bed each night, celebrate your successes of the day. Identify at least one great thing that happened. Think about what accomplishments made you most proud. When you focus on your daily success, you’ll look forward to producing more success tomorrow.
And I would add, there is no such thing as an “overnight success.”
Success is not easy. It might take longer than you expect. There will be days when you question yourself and wonder if it’s worth it or if you are on the right path. Trust your gut. Pay your dues. Work hard and work smart, and eventually success will come.
John Wooden didn’t win his first national college basketball title until his 16th season coaching at UCLA. Starbucks didn’t open its fifth store until 13 years after being founded. Sam Walton didn’t open his second store until seven years after creating Walmart.
Success takes time.
I remember reading about a former president of General Motors who started out as a stock boy. At his retirement, a reporter asked him if it were possible for a young person starting at the bottom today to get to the top.
“Indeed it is,” he replied. “The sad fact, however, is that so few young people realize it. Keep thinking ahead of your job! Let no one or anything stand between you and a difficult task. Let nothing deny you the rich opportunity to gain strength in adversity, confidence in mastery. Do each task better each time. Do it better than anyone else can do it!”
Just as brand names tell consumers about the products they buy, a personal brand tells other people about you: your strengths, goals and commitment to success. Put some work into defining and establishing your brand so it reflects the image you want. Try these ideas.
-- Identify your established strengths. Talk to your co-workers and your manager about what you’re known for -- the strengths they depend on, the tasks you’re the “go-to” person for, and so on. Decide which of these to emphasize (by volunteering for specific projects more often, for example) and focus on those areas and tasks.
-- Be authentic. You can’t fake your personal brand -- not for long, anyway. The key to making it work is being honest about who you are and what you can do. You can’t get out of unwanted work just because it doesn’t fit your brand, but you can position yourself for assignments that match your strengths by focusing on what you do best.
-- Adopt a unique style. You want to stand out, so do something different. It can be simple, or as challenging as developing a reputation for volunteering for the toughest assignments.
Snoopy, the memorable “Peanuts” cartoon pet, sat at the entrance of his doghouse and lamented, “Yesterday I was a dog. Today I’m a dog. Tomorrow I’ll probably still be a dog. SIGH. There’s so little hope for advancement.”
Don’t be like Snoopy and sit there droopy-eyed. Go out and make something happen.