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How to succeed overnight in 3 unusual steps

April 9, 2024

I recently had the pleasure of getting advice on building a career in comedy (I know!) from Dave O’Neil. We were asking about what appeared to be the overnight success of some comedians. He replied, ‘The secret really boils down to 3 things: work hard, be consistent and be nice to people’.

I then realised this is true of everything in life.

I loved how he said you have got to be ready to work hard. This sounds so old-fashioned, like grandma’s doilies. It’s not as seductive compared to shortcut, get-rich schemes and life hacks that guarantee transforming all your frogs into princes. Often the said systems, books and advice make it sound like no work is involved. No one ever mentions doing the work!

Hopefully, this is work you love, are passionate about, and is purposeful. But most of all, it is doing the work.

For writers, that means spending hours writing every day, (even when you don’t feel like it). For speakers, earning their speaking stripes for years in all sorts of gigs (hello rotary and Probus clubs) and in comedy hitting open mic nights every week no matter where you are in the world. Even when you rather cocoon in your hotel room binge-watching Netflix, drinking red wine and ordering room service! (Not bitter, just observing).

I don’t want to give the impression that doing the work is grim, grueling and thankless. Through doing the work, you experience all the beautiful things life offers – discovery, learning and growth. You face the demons of procrastination and self-doubt and transcend that to contribute. And that’s just the beginning.

In the early 1990s, there was a hit single called ‘I’m too sexy for this shirt’ by British group Right Said Fred (the Fairbrass brothers). If you have never heard of it, I commend you on your good music taste! And if you have heard of it, the memory probably set off an earworm in your head – a bit of unwanted 90’s nostalgia for your day!

The Fairbrass brothers were running a gym in London and noticed there were lots of people admiring themselves in the gym’s mirrors. As a joke, one brother posed in front of a mirror, taking off his shirt and started singing ‘I’m too sexy for my shirt’. This is where the idea for the song was born.

I’m going to riff on that and say while you might be too sexy for your shirts, ‘you are never too sexy for the work’.

My other learning (adding to Dave O’Neil’s advice) has been you must get your off stage sh*% together. By this, I mean exercise, meditate, practice deep self-care and most importantly having loving, supportive people in your life. That makes everything else possible and worthwhile.

The last one is always my wish for you. And thank you for being one of the supportive people in my life.

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

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