Sudden Success vs. Success Over Time – Which is Better?

We often have dreams of becoming an overnight sensation, and this is something that’s extremely romanticized in the media. Now, going viral is a goal – it’s something everyone with a Twitter or Instagram aspires to do one way or another. When it comes to talent, we air reality shows with an emphasis on sling-shotting a person into stardom over a period of a few months, if not overnight.

There is an obsession in this world with quick fame – but is it an obsession that’s placed on the correct form of success?

I have my own answer to this heated question. Playing in the NBA is a great honor that few people have an opportunity to experience. Everyone hears of the first round draft pick, huge contract signings and the glorious entrance, but my journey into the NBA didn't have such a storybook entry. I had to play my way in and constantly prove myself starting with my first team, The Chicago Bulls, beating out 67 other players for one available spot.

Because I wasn't drafted, I had to do more work to prove I belonged there. Over a few years my hard work paid off. I used to be embarrassed I didn't have the glorious beginning like most people assume comes along with being a pro sports player. It wasn’t until after I retired that I realized it gave me a gift: I had to tap into that same resourcefulness I used during my NBA years to grow my companies. As a result my companies grew to reach over 40 million dollars in five years. I accomplished this while other players struggled to start over after leaving pro sports.

Because of this, I realized the wealth is in the journey. Success that is cultivated overtime is something that many people don’t want – it requires blood, sweat, tears and effort, and that’s more than many are willing to give. However, we’ve seen numerous examples of how quickly acquired success can break a person, as well as examples of how quickly acquired success can fade just as soon as it was created.

Success is a dish best crafted over a long period of time, and we have some pretty good reasons why we think we’re right on this one.

1. Failure is a teaching tool.

When success is acquired quickly, the journey traveled to get from Point A to Point B is often short. There’s no learning curve, just a reality that one minute you’re an Average Joe and the next you’re a big shot.

Success that is cultivated over a period of time is success that requires trial and error. Failure teaches you how to solve problems, deal with loss and learn how to turn your mistakes into lifelong lessons.

2. You better learn how to handle success.

When you’ve worked for a long time to achieve success, you savor it more – you don’t take it for granted. However, those who achieve quick and easy success often don’t learn how to handle their sudden glory. These are the kinds of people who blow through money, wind up mentally or physically broken by fame, or they are one day embroiled in scandal. Slow success is safer success.

3. Relationships are better than success will ever be.

We’ve all seen the cliché movie where someone becomes a superstar, neglects the friends they had before they were famous, but everything ends alright after a nice speech and maybe a dance number. Real life isn’t so whimsical.

Forging relationships with people who believe in you will likely last even if the success doesn’t. The people you meet along the way are valuable – don’t forget that.

4. You won’t take success for granted.

When you put your hard work into success, you appreciate it more. You try your best to hold onto it and never let it go; otherwise you’ll have invested all of that energy and work into a crumbling sand castle. Quickly acquired success doesn’t come with the same appreciation for hard work and sacrifice.

5. Working hard means becoming wiser.

Being self-reliant and fostering success over time goes hand in hand. When you’re more used to going your own way, you’re more likely to handle your own problems and learn from mistakes. Those who acquire success overnight don’t have this same benefit – they often make judgments based on the opinions of others and require help to retain their success, unlike a person who has been there before and knows what to do based on experience.

Focusing on quick success is akin to focusing on fleeting success. If you want longevity attached to your fame and glory, you have to put the effort in. If you want to learn more about how my success over time has impacted my life as a person and professional, I’d love to chat with you. Visit my website for ways to contact me so we can begin our conversation.


If you want to hear more, here’s an extra video that explains living life above the rim