The myth of the overnight successWe constantly read about overnight success stories. Young people who come from nowhere to own multi billion dollar businesses. At the same time, young people are looking at their starting salary out of college and wondering where they got it all wrong. How come they aren’t earning the big bucks?

It’s all a myth. The overnight success doesn’t exist. They just weren’t on the radar before they made it big.

Comparing yourself against the top 1%

First of all, you are comparing yourself against the top 1% in the world. The people who are brilliant at what they do and are geniuses in every sense of the word.

Mark Zuckerberg is a prime example. He became the world’s youngest self made billionaire at just 23 years of age. He is just 38 years of age but it feels as if he has been around forever. He is also a college dropout.

But Zuckerberg was a prodigy. He started writing code when he was around 12 years of age. As a teenager, he built a computer programme that allowed the computer at home communicate with the computer in his dad’s dental office. He was writing computer programmes for years and was studying in Harvard where he created Facebook. The reason he dropped out of college was because Facebook became so successful he had to go fulltime in running the business.

The current Irish “overnight successes” are the Collison brothers who created the online payment system Stripe. Again, two very intelligent men who started their creative paths in their early teens. John Colling got eight A1s and two A2s in his Leaving Cert and then went to Harvard. Patrick Collison went to MIT and like Zuckerberg, dropped out because his of his business success.

It takes time to build a career

Most people don’t start working on their career until after they finish college. And you start at the bottom of the tree and work your way up. It takes years to gain experience, expertise and usually more education to get into a management position.

Look at doctors. One of the most respected careers you can have. It starts with six years in college and then another ten years working in hospitals. During that time, you are moved around the country and usually have to move abroad to complete your training. You are in your mid thirties before you are in a position to become a hospital consultant.

Professions like accountants and solicitors take a number of years to qualify, usually after going to college. Trainees start on very low pay and have to work long hours as well as completing their exams and serving their time. It is only after they have qualified that the opportunities open up.

People should not compare themselves to the top 1% in the world. These are multi billionaires you are comparing yourself too. They are people who are top of the tree when it comes to innovation and talent. They were creating while most kids of their own age were playing games with their friends. As the New Yorker said of Zuckerberg. “some kids played computer games. Mark created them.”

Even in a normal workplace, there will be people who are much better at what they do than everyone else. You may not be able to be as good as them but you can certainly learn from them and pick up some of their habits. But none of these people suddenly got to the top and became an overnight success. They put in the years like everyone else.

By Steven Barrett - Bluewater Financial Planning