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It Only Takes 20 Years To Be An Overnight Success

I was watching a favorite morning show years ago when an artist from my hometown was being interviewed. The hosts flattered and fawned and did what they do. Mark replied very simply, "Yeah, it only took me 20 years to be an overnight success."

That is true of everything. I coached basketball for grade school kids for a few years and teaching young boys basic, fundamental things is really hard if they are fans of the NBA. They would try to 3-step to a layup or under-hand it or ANYTHING it seems except plant one foot and shoot with the opposing hand which has been fundamental to basketball since the concept of a layup was introduced. They did not possess the strength or underlying knowledge to appreciate that professional athletes were once kids who learned excellent fundamentals. Patience, it seems, is in short supply.

Whether social media influencers seem to stumble into fame, a new voice appears on the charts out of nowhere, or a famous athlete performs feats that seem impossible, no successful person ever arrives there in an instant. Scales come before arias, layups before 3-pointers, and I am sure there is a "skill" required to develop a fan base on social media. No one succeeds on their first attempt; and, if they happen to, it is almost always short-lived.

Aesop wrote about a Crow and a Pitcher in order to convey this precise concept. Paraphrased, a thirsty bird sees a pitcher and lands on it only to realize he cannot reach the water. Rather than give up on quenching his thirst, the crow takes several pebbles and tosses them in the pitcher to raise the water level until, at long last, he can take a drink. Patience and perseverance are necessary in order to achieve success.

In a world filled with microwaves, Instagram, and practically everything "on demand", this is an important lesson to teach our children. One of the numerous dangers of social media and "reality" television is that kids will become so envious and misinformed about the work behind success that they will stop striving entirely. No wonder we are facing epidemic depression and anxiety. If a kid only sees "instant" success in others, he or she will expect "instant" success for themselves. And, adults well know that it simply is not true.

President Trump became a billionaire after decades of investing and working and reinvesting and losing and recovering the million-dollar gift his father gave him. Steph Curry became the best dribbler ever after years of dibble drills and rejection and being told he was too small and grade school and high school and college and constantly working harder than his teammates to prove himself. And, Mark Wills, that kid from my hometown, finally had a number one hit after decades in bars and honkey tonks and state fairs and mildly successful albums and opening for bigger acts and working toward a goal with dedication.

The lesson? No one can put the pebbles in the pitcher for you, but it is never too late to start raising the level of the water for yourself. Quench your thirst through hard work and patience and then, when an opportunity presents itself, you will be ready to be an overnight success.

May God bless and keep you in perfect peace ever ready to give an answer to your calling.

Thanks for reading!

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