Four principles for becoming a "gradual" success

consistency faithfulness success stories May 21, 2024

Recently, my wife and I enjoyed lunch with some friends.  We had a great conversation and talked about all kinds of things, including social media marketing and online platform development.  That probably sounds like a strange thing to talk about during lunch, but these happen to be friends who care about subjects like this.

In the midst of the conversation, I was asked how long I had been consistently working on my online platform, and I mentioned that it was just about ten years, give or take.  Then someone pointed out a few details they knew about my podcast downloads and the reach of my blog content, followed by joking about me being an “overnight success.”  We laughed about that because all of us know that just about anyone who succeeds in their chosen field will tell you it definitely didn’t happen overnight.  Any success I’ve experienced has come gradually, not immediately.

This is an important thought to revisit from time to time because failing to understand the principle of gradual, incremental success keeps people from actually experiencing it.  Either they will get discouraged early on, or they’ll give up implementing the daily disciplines needed to unlock the kind of traction and momentum that can only be experienced over time.

I had another conversation with a friend not too long ago.  She has the desire to serve people online, but she isn’t clear about the 5 D’s of online platform development.  She hasn’t discovered her message.  She isn’t sure about how to deliver her content.  She hasn’t developed and audience nor has she deployed a team to help her, and as a result, she isn’t deriving an income.  She’s a wonderful person, but I can tell she’s getting frustrated with the lack of progress she’s experiencing.  She wants things to start working now, and she admires the success others are experiencing, but I think it’s likely that she has burdened her mind with the unrealistic expectation that the kind of success she desires is going to come quickly.

I’ll tell you one more story about another friend.  Not long ago she shared that her online platform earned her over $250 in a single day.  That’s a level of income that I consider special because when your platform starts earning that kind of income, you’re at a spot where the work you do online can truly replace your traditional job (if you want it to).  My friend has been building her online platform for years.  She didn’t see numbers like that overnight, but after years of consistently serving her audience, meeting their needs as best as she could, and regularly releasing helpful content, she has earned the kind of authority and traction she needs to succeed with what she’s doing.

I’m sharing these experiences and telling you these stories as an encouragement.  If you’ve been pressuring yourself to become an overnight success, please stop.  If you’ve been watching someone else succeed and feeling envious about the clarity and momentum they’re enjoying in year five while you’re still at month five, please stop making those comparisons.

If I may, please allow me to offer some counsel on the process and mindset of becoming a gradual success instead of an overnight success.  These are four principles that I hope you’ll regularly revisit when you need either a word of encouragement or a reality check.

Principle #1:  Most successful people that I’ve had the privilege to meet, including people with celebrity status, are gradual (not overnight) successes.  Once they gained clarity on their message, area of expertise, or value they were called to provide for the benefit of others, they started putting in the work.  Working on their platform became a daily activity for them.  Even on the days when they didn’t emotionally feel like doing what they were doing, they still soldiered on, often for years.  By the time they hit a momentum point, they had been honing their craft for a while.

Principle #2:  If you’re aiming for gradual success, you will hit milestones along the way that are worth celebrating.  I often tell people who want to succeed in online platform development to expect to invest three years of consistent, daily activity before they’ll see a tipping point, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be encouraging breakthroughs along the way.  Celebrate those milestones as you achieve them.  It’s a big deal when you release your first episode, publish your first book, get your first download, sell your first course, and schedule your first coaching session.  It’s also a big deal when you get your thousandth download or sell your twentieth course.  Don’t forget to celebrate these wins on your path to sustainable momentum.

Principle #3:  Gradual success is more about making small, daily investments, not hitting the lottery.  Financial investing is one of my many side interests.  One of my favorite things to do is to trace the growth of accounts that I opened decades ago.  My 401k is a good example of this.  I can access an interactive online chart that lets me see what the small investment I made in that account right after I finished college has turned into.  Albert Einstein apparently once said that compound interest is the “eighth wonder of the world.”  I completely understand why he felt that way, and that concept is true for both personal finances and online platform growth.  Small, daily investments become much bigger when given time to grow.  If you stop making those investments in the early years of your platform, you’re robbing yourself of the growth you can one day experience.

Principle #4:  Redefine success.  It isn’t hitting a certain number.  Success is faithfully offering the kind of help you’re uniquely qualified to offer over a long period of time without being deterred.  If you define success this way instead of defining it by downloads, audience size, or dollars in your bank account, you’re going to experience greater satisfaction in the work you’re doing.  You’ll feel like a success every day instead of eventually.  Knowing you did the right thing today when you could have put it off (like many people choose to do) will contribute to a greater sense of mission and purpose.  Stop defining success through terms of discouragement.  Redefine success so that your definition becomes more about daily faithfulness than daily downloads.

I want you to succeed.  The work I’m doing with Platform Launchers is all geared toward your success.  But don’t aim to become the next overnight success.  That isn’t really success at all.  It has a weak foundation and rarely lasts.  Become a gradual success instead.  Gradual success is long-term success.  It produces better fruit and in most cases helps more people than the alternative.

© John Stange, 2024

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