Never believe in overnight successes. They’re like the tooth fairy. They’re make-believe. How many times have you heard about the struggling actress who moves to Hollywood and bumps into the guy at the coffee shop who happens to know a producer at Miramax? Then bam! The next week, she’s on the set of the next Quentin Tarantino flick.
Or how about the starry-eyed rapper who’s desperate to be the next MTV sensation? So he starts free-styling on the street one day at just the moment that the head A&R rep at Jive happens to be walking by. Next thing, he’s working on his own major label album.
You’ve probably noticed already that in the real world, things don’t usually happen that way. The overnight success is and always will be a myth. The big reason is that there’s too many layers of complexity between an idea and a real world end result.
Nobody makes it on their own. To find and to motivate all the necessary players who have the talent and resources to make your dream idea of being successful in music come true, you have to put in the work.
But you already knew that, right? I think that most people do. But there’s a difference between knowing something and acting on it. Many people know that in life nothing comes easily. But at the back of their minds, they still believe that there’s shortcuts if they look hard enough. They believe that they’re cleverer than the universe.
That notion gets reinforced in their heads by the media hype around companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook that seem to have popped up overnight. But that’s an illusion. The guys who started these companies worked the fingers to the bone anonymously for years before their ideas blossomed. What you didn’t see were the hours spent studying mathematical algorithms, learning how to code or negotiating to make even the simplest things possible.
According to Malcolm Gladwell, author of “The Tipping Point” the magic number is 10,000 hours. He argues that whether you’re a musician, entrepreneur, athlete or anything at all, to be great at what you do, you have to put in 10,000 hours. It’s those 10,000 hours that the public doesn’t see. That you family doesn’t see. That your friends don’t see.
It’s the hours you spend learning the guitar or how to code or how to make a perfect fade away jump shot. Anybody who wants to be anything at all has to put in those hours. There’s just no way around it. At least, if you want your success to last.
John Mayer is an excellent musician. It took years for John Mayer to become who he is. But he earned it. What the public never saw about John Mayer were the 15 months he spent after high school working at a gas station to save money to buy his first proper guitar. What you never saw was the time he spent at Berklee or the time he spent playing at coffee houses and bars. All 10,000 hours of it.
And you may be on the same journey. If you’re like most people, you’ll give up after a while. You’ll do so because you’re under the illusion that there must be an easier way. But there really isn’t.
The only thing that really keeps you going is intense passion and a deep belief that you deserve your dream. I can’t give you a specific roadmap because everybody’s different. But ultimately, I think it comes down to this: The way you make your tremendously difficult dreams come true is by first zeroing in on exactly what it is you want. Then you put in the 10,000 hours. That could mean 3 hours a day for 10 years or however you want to do it. But you have to do it.
You have to hang in there. That is, if you give a damn. Then when luck comes your way, you’ll be prepared to take advantage of it because you’ll recognize it. That’s how the real world works.
Mika Schiller is a writer for the Indie music website MADE and he writes about where the music industry’s headed and how it relates to the Independent Music artist. He gives irreverent career and personal development advice to the Indie music artist. For more great writing and irresistible advice, along with a free report on effective MySpace music marketing, please visit http://www.letsgetmade.com.