Jeff Goins, one of my favorite authors, wrote the book “Real Artists Don’t Starve.”
In one of his notes, he spoke of the virtue of persistence and need for us not to quit.
“Did you know The Great Gatsby took 40 years to become a bestseller?
Did you know The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson’s experimental film with puppets and people, bombed in the box office but went on to become one of his most profitable films on video?
Did you know Pixar was losing money every year for over a decade before it became a billion-dollar company “overnight”?
What’s the lesson here? It takes time to hit it big.
Success, at least the kind you can sustain, is often a slow growth strategy.
So, if you are striving to hit a certain level of success—trying to become a bestselling author or a millionaire or successful entrepreneur—the best thing you could do is take your time.
Of course, you don’t have to do this.
You can try to sell 10,000 books in a week to hit the New York Times list. You can push your audience to the point of breaking because you want to achieve a certain income goal.
You can become a road warrior and exhaust yourself trying to speak in every possible venue.
Or, you can take your time.
You can have a goal and the dogged determination to hit it, eventually. The choice is yours, but there are tradeoffs on both sides.
Recently on a podcast, the interviewer asked what I thought the biggest reason for failure in online business was. I said “impatience.”
Success earned too quickly is rarely kept, and the kind that that takes time tends to be more sustainable.
When it takes a thousand little steps to get there, it’s much easier to course correct when failure comes.
Not too long ago, I received an email from an artist telling me Real Artists Don’t Starve transformed the way she approached her art. In fact, she told me the book inspired her to go pro with her painting hobby. The part in the book about patrons helped her get a $100,000 investment from a local businesswoman, which allowed her to open up a local shop.
I get stories like this almost every day. And yet, the book was not the overnight, phenomenal success I wanted it to be. The people I thought would care about it, didn’t. And those I didn’t even imagine it reaching have cared about it deeply.
One musician friend told me, “This is the kind of book that’s going to be a slow burn for you.”
How right he was. And how I hate it.
I like instant gratification, overnight success, immediate effects. Don’t we all? What I think we often forget is that success that comes quickly is just as quick to leave. I’ll leave you with this:
It is one of the few variables we can control in this crazy world: your own ability to not quit.
For nine years, I had a bad habit of starting blogs and abandoning them. They all failed, and they had one thing in common: I quit all of them.
Then, with my tenth blog, I decided to do something different. The strategy was very simple: I just would not quit. That blog was called Goinswriter.com.
I don’t know what you’re working on and how you feel about it, but if you’re like most of us, it’s not what you thought it was. It’s not as big or as good or hasn’t come as quickly as you’d hoped it would. I get it. I’m there, too.
If you feel this way, you’re not alone. My only encouragement is that this is normal; it’s part of the job. And you really can’t do anything about it.
Except not quit.
So I hope you keep going. Not because “we” need your work. But because you need it. It’s what you set out to do—to do this work—so don’t stop because the people you wanted to pay attention aren’t aware of you (yet).
Don’t give up because it’s not measuring up to your expectations (yet). This is how it goes. You’re in good company. Keep going.”