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This may sound silly, but WHY doesn't instant success happen to most people?

I'm a freshman in college and I tend to be an idealist... I don't expect to be "instantly successful" out of college because according to my dad, that's unheard of/rare. But WHY are most people NOT instantly successful. Why is it such a long process? What keeps people from being instantly successful. Though I agree with Jon Stewart, creativity comes from LIMITS not freedom. Thanks! #college #job-search #success #life-skills #life-transitions #personal-development


Clarifying question: When you think of "instant success" what do you mean? If you mean famous, then I can definitely answer that. If you mean something more commonplace like "getting a good paying job", then I can answer that as well. Thoughts? Jared Chung BACKER

Hi Jared. I mean instant success like why do people have to work their way up? Why can't they get placed their... my dad says because people need experience and that's how they get to the top. Thanks!! :-) Liana S.

Ah so that's interesting. Do you mean to say that when you ask about being "instantly successful" you're referring to reaching the top of the career path? Like: a college senior who gets a job as the CEO of General Electric? Jared Chung BACKER

Yes exactly!! Why doesn't that happen even though it's a bit unrealistic... Liana S.

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Arneel’s Answer

You know, Liana, I used to say a similar phrase. "Why do I need a piece of paper to be hired to do a job I know I'll be good at?" I put off finishing college until my 30's, as a result of my "attitude." Things aren't always going to make sense to all people. I think the reason for people's success is directly related to their individual ability to take risks, fail, and be resilient and continue on, striving for their goals. I've always been a negatively geared person, when it comes to failing. I had to change my mind set. It sounds like you have a great perspective and are willing to get out there, try, fail, and try again. Resiliency is the key, but not if you don't continue your forward momentum toward your ultimate goal. There are short cuts to a goal. Let me tell you though, many times, when I took a short cut, such as gaining college credit from, "experiential credit", the people in my field didn't respect my knowledge base as much. The reason is, they had gained their credit the harder way, in their own mindset. See, people want to know that you "went through" the typical steps to get where they are. This often roadblocks your momentum. You've got to find folks that have your mindset. Your perspective is fine. Why should you have to take so long? There's a girl I've heard of who is in high school, selling jewelry to Hollywood stars. She's making a fortune! I suggest that you read the book, "Eat That Frog". By Brian Tracy and also the book on mindset by Carol Dwek. I believe, like you do, that perhaps your path to success can be shortened. It will take your willingness to develop resiliency! Go for it!


Hi Arneel! Thanks so much for your unique perspective and thoughtful answer! I actually own the book Mindset by Carol Dweck and I'll check out Eat That Frog! I agree people want to see the you went through the steps because most people like to maintain the status quo. I agree that taking risks and being resilient is essential if you want to thrive in life. Thanks for your advice!!!! Never stop building momentum because the world is in perpetual motion!! Liana S.

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Ben’s Answer

As a fellow college student I definitely agree with you. There have been too many times where I've wished I earned more money. I tell myself, "I want that new camera, those new shoes, that new car, go on a weekend vacation to Los Angeles, etc." I keep on saying "I want, I want, I want." With the income I'm earning I am realistically able to only do so much. I can treat myself every once in a while. Do I think I won't be successful in life? Absolutely not. However its it is going to take a long time. I have to work for it.


I honestly believe that instant success is not a real thing unless you win the lottery (highly statistically improbable. Also most people who win the lottery also go bankrupt because of poor money management skills. I'm not sure if I want to deem that an instant success. Ok random tangent over.)


People like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, while they are hugely successful they were not an instant success. They put in TONS of time and work into their ideas and they became insanely successful. You and me probably aren't going to be the next Jobs or Zuckerberg, those people are rare and there only are a few people on the same level as them. People who are deemed "instant successes" have rare talents, know all the right people, or are extremely lucky that's what it comes down to. However, I truly believe that you can be successful, but you got to put in the effort and work hard.


Hi Ben. Thanks so much for your thoughtful answer! I agree with everything you're saying!! Put in the work and success builds over time! I wish you the best!!! Liana S.

No problem. Always happy to help! :D Ben Landis COACH

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Kim’s Answer

Hi Liana!


Wow! What a question! If we define"Success" as someone who is top of their game, it can come at many ages. Athletes are successful at young ages, however, it is hardly "instant." They have to train and compete. A surgeon cannot walk out of medical school and be the most sought-after surgeon, because no one ever heard of him. Even if you were the smartest person in the world, the rest of us would whisper behind your back, "yeah, but does she have any common sense?" Success has a lot to do with reputation, and reputations are earned.


Do not confuse "success" with "wealth." It is possible to have a low-level job, do it well, live modestly within your means, and be happy. Being a career-counselor does not pay much, but when I hear that our customers frequently request to meet with me rather than other counselors, to me, that is a measure of success. I'm debt-free, except for my house, have a little bit saved up, have health insurance, and just enrolled in graduate school at the age of 55. Is that "Successful?" Perhaps for a 55 year old, but not for a 20 year old?


Let me ask you a question. How do YOU define "Success?" You need to answer this question for yourself, otherwise, you will never know if you are there or not. And don't be afraid to change that definition over time.


Hope these rambling thoughts have helped!
Good question!


Hi Kim. Thanks so much for your thoughtful answer!! Much appreciated!!! Yeah I've actually been thinking about what it means to be successful and since we're different versions of ourselves at different points in life, the definition of success is dynamic. Also what makes me happy will change over time. I'll have to think more! :-) Liana S.

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Scott’s Answer

I am assuming your idea of instant success is a prosperous position where you are a high earner and a power contributor. I believe the reason is most people starting their first time job do not have the requisite skills it takes to hit the ground running. Understand, your fellow employees are also smart people. Most of the "low hanging fruit" that would enable instant success has been accomplished before you enter an organization. It simply takes time to develop your skills, learn the dynamics of what success looks like and gain the experience to know where your contributions can assist your company in the most meaningful way possible.

One piece of tactical advice though, you will be presented with opportunities within your organization. It could be your are being asked to give a presentation, start or run a project or contribute in a meeting. Your goal, to give a baseball analogy, is to hit a home run or at least a triple. A double or a single isn't going to get it done. Your job is to get noticed as a high performer, and if you are successful with it repetitiously, you goal of being a success may not be instant, but it will be accelerated. Best of luck!

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Maxine’s Answer

Success is measured in many ways. First learn and determine what it is that will make you feel self fulfillment. What is it that you want to enjoy exploring. Do not confuse happiness with success. Success is an accomplishment that you can inspire and achieve. Fine the issue that will help you to achieve whatever it may be.


Hi Maxine! Thanks so much for your answer. Yes success is defined in a number of ways and happiness runs on an axis just like all the other emotions. I'll continue to find what I want to explore! Best! Liana S.

It depends on how you define success. Success does not mean attaining huge goals. Success is also the small and mundane goals and actions people do everyday. People who are successful generally work hard and work on achieving small goals to achieve a greater goal that they hope to achieve. Rachel B.

Thanks Rachel for your comment!!! I appreciate it!! I like your answer too! Liana S.

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Marie’s Answer

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has the following definition of success:

1a: degree or measure of succeeding
b: favorable or desired outcome
also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence
2: one that succeeds

I think the perception of being successful or attaining success is different for each person. The greatest success in my career has been the ability to help others grow in their career. To do this I relied on my own experiences and growth from those experiences over my own career.

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