There’s No Such Thing As An Overnight Success by Calvin Eaton

There’s No Such Thing As An Overnight Success

There I said it. But to my chagrin, I hear this “expression” (if you can call it that) much too often. I cringe every time I hear it. It burns my corneas every time I read it. “Over night success” I shudder as I type it out. I kid. (not really) And for good reason. It burns me when hardworking folks are not given their due credit. I’m bothered when writers, media, journalists, whoever; unknowingly discredit the countless hours , the blood, sweat, tears, skin, brain power, money, and hard work that goes into becoming successful, honing a craft, and perfecting a talent. This back handed compliment is nothing close to positive. At best it’s nearly impossible since anyone who creates anything for a living understands that the road to success is more like an unending journey. A winding, twisting, gut wrenching, expensive, frustrating, maddening, and time consuming path. One that never seems to have a beginning and rarely has an end; since the end spells the exact opposite of success. At it’s worst, the phrase is insulting, banal, reductive, and implies that “fate” is required to become successful. This notion is utterly absurd. Success is very measurable, observable, and able to be calculated. There’s only one pathway to success; hard work.

There’s only one pathway to success; hard work.

This road is lonely. Yes. While everyone else is living it up, gadding about, partying, relaxing, relishing in the sun; those who chase success are busy plotting, planning, reading, working, and grinding. Daytime, nighttime, morning time, midnight, dusk, dawn, anytime and every time. Those that want to be successful make time to be successful. Often when everyone else is asleep. They work harder. They plan smarter. They read more. Rehearse more. Learn more. Do more. And this is nothing against those that sleep. My point is that success never happens overnight. Success like love, takes time to cultivate. Success is something that is curated. It is honed and caressed. It is cared for, stoked, stroked, and polished. Success happens over time. Oftentimes those that succeed in finding success don’t even realize that they have it. Sure, success can be catapulted. Sometimes it has a defining moment. A pivotal action or chain of reactions that catapult it into the consciousness of the masses.

Some call this a stepping stone. Some call this a big break. The one action that takes all the long nights, the grueling days, and countless hours and shoots them into the public conscious like a batter hitting a baseball. Success has many names:

  • Micheal
  • Whitney
  • Mariah
  • Celine
  • Mark
  • Mohammed
  • Steve
  • Bill
  • Obama

Do you see where I am going? Everyone has a start. Before there was Michael and Obama there was Michael and Obama. Ordinary people that had extraordinary passion and a quest to do extraordinary things. They had more drive, more desire, more passion, and more work ethic than the average. While their peers were sleeping they were busy working. Not dreaming. Not resting. Not relaxing. Working. Every hour of every day they worked. No one else get’s to take credit for this. Not a manager. Not an investor. Not a coach. Not a producer. Not the stepping stone. Not a friend. Not fate. Not time. THEY are solely responsible for their success because they worked hard and believed when no one else would. They knew even before they knew that one day it would all pay off.


It’s true that they may have had a big break. Or a defining moment that put them or their idea into the consciousness of the public. Some made their own moment. Some never get a moment at all. They just quietly and defiantly worked. Every night. Every day. When no one else would. Success doesn’t happen overnight.

About Calvin Eaton

(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a disabled community educator, content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, equity, justice, instructional design, and program development. In 2016 Mr. Eaton founded 540WMain, Inc. a virtual non-profit organization and antiracist education brand that promotes justice for all. The organization encourages individuals to broaden their horizons and learn more about multidisciplinary issues and topics that impact the world. 

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Published by Calvin Eaton

(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a disabled community educator, content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, equity, justice, instructional design, and program development. In 2016 Mr. Eaton founded 540WMain, Inc. a non-profit online and community-based organization for accessible education and events that promote justice for all.

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