Inigo Montoya on “Overnight Success”

You can listen to people talk about “a man with six fingers” or “a businessman who met with overnight success” all day long. But chances are that you will never meet either—and for good reason.

As regards the latter, it’s because no matter how some people describe it, a businessman’s success is invariably the product of much more than twenty-four hours of work.

In Good to Great, Jim Collins quotes Sam Walton contradicting those who claim otherwise:

Somehow over the years people have gotten the impression that Wal-Mart was . . . just this great idea that turned into an overnight success. But . . . it was an outgrowth of everything we’d been doing since [1945]. . . . And like most overnight successes, it was about twenty years in the making.

Of course, that was then and this is now. Given the faster pace of everything today, things are completely different, right?

Not exactly.

Karl Kowalski (audio article reader for TOS and author of Mac Application Development For Dummies) shared with me the following quote from a new book titled Appillionaires: Secrets from Developers Who Struck it Rich on the App Store: “People say [Angry Birds] was an overnight success. Well, yes, it was an overnight success after 52 other failed attempts.”

Contrary to what many people say—but as anyone can see in the history of great achievements—success doesn’t “just happen” overnight, even if an entrepreneur reaches a particular breakthrough that quickly.

The entrepreneur (at least in regard to the free parts of our mixed economy) earns his success, usually over a long period and after many failures.

Thus, those who insist on preceding the word “success” with the word “overnight” should be met with the sage words of Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Like this post? Join our mailing list to receive our weekly digest. And for in-depth commentary from an Objectivist perspective, subscribe to our quarterly journal, The Objective Standard.

Related:


Comments submitted to TOS Blog are moderated. To be considered for posting, a comment must be civil, substantive, and fewer than 400 words in length. If approved, your comment will be posted soon.