RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (TheStreet) -- Success does not come easy to most of us. It typically takes an investment of time and money. There are instances of "overnight" success when one moment of brilliance intersects with perfect timing and you get the big payoff, but you're more likely to be struck by lightning than be that person who has no investment in the success process.
Envying other people's success gets you nothing but a bad attitude. Admiring someone's success gets you inspiration. Surrounding you with successful people who have achieved what you want -- fame, fortune, independence, whatever -- can provide valuable insights and access to the lessons learned. Surrounding yourself with underachievers who want to boost your ego or ride the coattails of your success will bring you down, fast and hard.
I do a lot of work with organizations who need strategic and financial expertise. These organizations (nonprofits and for-profits) have big dreams and small budgets relative to what they want to accomplish. Those who are committed to the vision and customer are willing to put in the effort. On the flip side, organizations that lose track of the highest purpose, i.e. serving the client, get lost and often feel they are entitled to succeed.
Success does not arrive on a prescribed or predetermined schedule. It is a process with many steps on that road. Sometimes those steps feel like you are walking through quicksand; other times it feels like you are dancing on clouds. Whether you are trudging or dancing, getting caught up in "doing things" does not mean you are getting things done.
Recently, one startup nonprofit to which I donate time was tasked with documenting the programs they want funded. They were asked to write simple, concise descriptions of the program and provide a budget for the resources needed. Well, two months later, these basic items are still incomplete. The reason? "We don't have the resources to do this. We need to be raising funds." But these are the items needed to get a $50,000 grant for the program, and the time that could have been spent on getting these items together was spent on putting together a fundraising event that has historically raised $500 at most, albeit in an immediate payoff. Where would you spend your time: $50,000 or $500? Seems obvious.
Successful people and organizations look long term, and they do not wait or expect someone else to create their opportunities or results. They work long hours, skip vacations and live in the mode that when they get to the goal they've set, the results will be worth it.
Success requires you to spell out a clear vision and commit to the long-term objective. By investing in the process, assigning resources to promising tasks and assessing the return on effort for each activity, entrepreneurs will able to set milestones, measure results and manage expectations. In reality, it takes years of hard work to become an "overnight success."
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