Success Is Not Linear

What people think the path to success looks like:



What the path actually looks like:


This graph shows an accurate portrayal of success. People will go for long periods of time, especially when they first start a new project, where they will see no visible results. This time period of seeing no clear success often lasts long enough to make people quit a new project entirely.

When a writer starts a blog they will have very few readers for weeks and even months at a time. There are exceptions but this is the norm. During these first few weeks and months it can be discouraging and disheartening to see no visible success. But then one day an article from their blog gets featured on a much larger site, bringing a never-before-seen amount of traffic to their blog. This marks a huge achievement and instantly puts the blog on the radar of far more readers. Then the blog may go on for another stretch of time where they slowly gain more readers. Then another article or two gets featured elsewhere and the traffic to their site increases exponentially.

This path to success can be seen in all areas of life. In start-up businesses a new company will often go for months and even years at a time with virtually no recognition. Then one day they end up on a show like Shark Tank and their idea reaches millions of consumers at once.

The path of hidden success

There is something hugely important about success that we need to realize. Even though we see no visible progress we are often still making hidden progress. Consider the following graph. The blue line still represents the visible success we can see when working towards a goal. The red bars represent the “hidden” success we experience as we work towards a goal.


The more time and effort we put towards a goal, the more experience we gain. We learn what works and what doesn’t work. We improve our communication skills, our work ethic, our writing skills. We make progress that can’t visibly be seen. But this progress is pushing us closer and closer to visible success. We need to recognize that just because we don’t see outward recognition doesn’t mean our efforts are in vain. The very nature of working towards a goal promotes growth.

The path to achievement is not linear. Life is random. But if we can learn to focus on hidden success, the outward success will come. As we make more and more hidden progress, the outward progress and recognition will eventually show up.


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