…Musings on the concept of “overnight success” aka hammer.
You’re scrolling through Instagram and you happen upon a post from someone you know: The post features this person sitting in the front seat of a luxury car parked in front of a new house. You know this guy quite well. You’re not quite sure what it is he does for a living. You’ve never thought about it. Now that you are looking at his picture in the new car in front of a new house, you begin to wonder.
Of course, you’re happy for him. This is worthy of celebration. Yet, you can’t help wondering how he could afford to get both assets within such a short period. His post has no details but his testimony is well communicated. You notice his follower count has started increasing. The announcement post has a large number of likes and comments with some people asking: “God when?”
Overnight successes fascinate me.
One minute, this person is toiling away, sweating, even suffering. The next minute, he is cruising away in a sports car with a drop top. The wind escorts him as he drives away (in Naija, it’s more like the dust though). One minute she is “this person” and then the next minute, she is “this person raised to the power of two”.
In our part of the world, it’s practically a miracle!
Now and again, we find people who testify of their good fortune; an expensive acquisition, an appointment, a connection with an influential person. We wonder how they “came by” their testimony. We don’t immediately connect them with such.
We are tempted to think both the best and the worst when people experience a significant change, seemingly overnight. Objectively, you are happy for such a person, they deserve it, they have worked hard for it.
But more often than not, you are curious. You could also be suspicious; how did their lives turn around for the better in such a short time? What did they do to get this bump up the road? What is the backstory? Did they have to do something illegal or did their old hard work get rewarded?
It can be easy for many to assume a miracle has happened but if you query these incidents, would you really call them miracles?
If you don’t look or ask the right questions, you can make many assumptions. These could range from thinking they were lucky to assuming they had become involved in some shady business. Some people could default to thinking these overnight successes had done something illegal. One can think the worst if the story doesn’t add up, especially when the person appears to have withheld some information.
We could also look at the positive side. We could consider that the overnight success has been toiling behind the scenes. Someone may have referred his services and he was able to make good money. Or she happened to be in the right place at the right time. What if he worked hard for this? We often don’t see the work that goes on behind the scenes, do we? Oftentimes, when we do see it, we take it for granted until it bears fruit.
The matter is never helped often because people refuse to share their steps to success. Ask the typical person and you will hear “Na God do am o” and that is the sum of their testimony. You wonder if you serve the same God. How do some people get turnaround opportunities within such a short period and you don’t even have two pennies to rub together?
I have often wondered about this: do they have two heads? Did they do something extraordinary? What exactly did they do that someone else hasn’t done? Very often, we think they have done something illegal or inappropriate because the testimony sounds too good to be true.
Unfortunately, in our environment, few people will share their full story. Can you blame anyone when sometimes it seems as though their village people are working ten to the dozen on their matter? So, when they finally hit their breakthrough, they are silent about their journey to success. Our general lack of trust is a good reason why people never share the full story. Unfortunately, some have been stabbed in the back by so-called friends and family after they shared their story.
Because many people don’t share their backstory, it is hard to determine which good fortunes have been earned and which have come through illegitimate means. The implication is that many people see the glory but don’t know the story. They are ready to do anything to recreate that testimony for themselves, after all “this person’s life changed overnight, why can’t mine change too?”
Many people welcome overnight success stories because society rarely questions their source of wealth. For example, we see people spending money like it’s going out of fashion, we have our suspicions but barely anyone bothers to ask the hard questions. Some people are waiting till they can replicate this same experience anyway.
Many are motivated to look for the easiest way (often illegal) to hit their payday. Questionable members of society inspire them. The thinking is that they can also succeed if those people could succeed. Everybody wants to hammer immediately.
Genuine overnight successes do exist. People who have toiled in the background, burning the midnight oil. They have done things that many other people would not do because it is too much hard work. We need such people to tell their stories more often. More people need to be encouraged in knowing that hard work and smart work does pay.
We also need to be more questioning of people who appear flashy. People who cannot explain the source of their wealth. We cannot allow those coming behind us to assume that it is ok to live a false life and flaunt it before others. We can do better. We need to get back to the days when we held one another accountable. This is one of the most certain ways we can build a more sustainable society and this is the way I see things today.