Overnight success stories: The myth our instant-gratification generation could be falling for

The world moves at a rapid-fire pace these days, and so do we. Information is consumed in abbreviated form as pithy sound bites, you can inform your loyal followers around the globe of every detail of your life in real time, and the newest tech toys are “obsolete” less than a year after you get them.

Not only do we move on and up quickly, but the rate of change itself is increasing. Inventions that would have been science fiction a decade ago are now ubiquitous and common-place (case in point: see the upgraded classic picture book, “Goodnight iPad”).

We take it for granted that when it comes to the next big thing, turnover time is near-instantaneous. And when the headlines fit within 140 characters, we tend to think of all stories as easily compressed into a few key points. Plus, our globalized social network generates insta-publicity and the capacity to “go viral” in a matter of days. So when someone makes it big or catches their big break overnight, we’re all talking about it.

Sure, it might be inspiring to some extent, but it also sets an unrealistic standard for those of us trying to make it on our own. The way that dramatic stories are selectively splashed all over our news feeds makes it seem like those stories are the extent of the news. Don’t be fooled.

More importantly, don’t be discouraged when your great idea takes longer to get off the ground than we’re trained to expect.

Living in this age of immediacy might make it hard to believe this, but for every so-called “overnight success story”, there is a decade of hard work that lies behind the scenes.

There will always be exceptions to every rule, but as we become accustomed to instant gratification, we risk expecting the exception to be the rule. Take it from someone who’s been there, the time and work you’re putting in now will make the difference.

If we pause to reflect on the sheer scope of the wide array of amazing things available today, it’s easy to shift our attitudes so that we are invigorated by the spirit of possibility rather than jaded by the false premise that success should come easily.