How To Become An Overnight Sensation

overnight sensation

You’ve heard of them in every field. Overnight sensations make people stop and say, “Wow, what a lucky break!”

However, if you look at their history, their success is anything but overnight. These are people who have been working for a very long time on their craft. They have been perfecting it, positioning themselves, and taking opportunities when they see them.

A great example is Susan Boyle, the singer who was discovered on Britain’s Got Talent a couple of years ago. She stunned everyone when she started singing and instantly rose to fame. Many talked about her as an overnight sensation. But was she really? When you learn about her history you find that she sang often. She honed her skill and took opportunities to be in front of an audience. And let’s not forget that she got onto that show and that stage. If not for that, well, things would be very different.

Malcolm Gladwell visits this idea in his book Outliers. While the book is really about success, there is a lot to learn about overnight successes. Mainly, that they are anything but. Gladwell talks about working for 10,000 hours at a skill or talent, and how circumstance has a lot to do with success. He cites example after example of people who are tremendously successful. As he tracks their history you can see what has gone into that success. We see that success is related to a lot of things but instant fame isn’t one of them.

So, how can you become an overnight sensation?

Stop hoping to be discovered. Get down to the business of excellence and build your success from there. Know where you want to go and then set the wheels in motion to get there.

3 Steps to Become an Overnight Sensation

Practice, Practice, Practice

If you want to excel at something you have to practice it. You have to do the work to truly become the expert in your field. Sometimes business owners become removed from the thing that got them into business in the first place. This can lead to being out of touch with what you sell. Your value statement can take a big hit here.

If you want to be an overnight sensation, keep honing your skill.

Stay Connected

The busier we get the easier it is to disengage. However, we should be doing the exact opposite. Continue to get out and meet, connect and build relationships. It is often through those relationships that you receive your big break.

If you isolate yourself, you make it difficult for opportunities to arise.


You never know when an opportunity is going to present itself. So, keep your eyes open and don’t be afraid to take a leap. Believe in yourself enough to take a chance. Imagine if Susan Boyle had shied away from the big event and national exposure. If she had not believed in herself, she never would have ventured in such a big way.

Want to be an overnight sensation? Great. Continue to work hard, build relationships and believe in yourself. Don’t fear opportunities, or possible failure. Those who are consistent in their efforts, beliefs and focus are the ones who succeed. While they may seem like they appeared out of nowhere, they didn’t. They worked consistently over time to achieve their goals. And you can too.

Sensation Photo via Shutterstock


Diane Helbig Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach and the president of Seize This Day. Diane is a Contributing Editor on COSE Mindspring, a resource website for small business owners, as well as a member of the Top Sales World Experts Panel at Top Sales World.

17 Reactions
  1. Thanks, Diane,

    Overnight sensations really are a myth. It takes hard work…and practice.

    And once you’re good at something, it also helps to have an engaged network that believes in you so you can get some traction online and offline with whatever it is you’re bringing to the market.

    The Franchise King®

  2. As an artist, I have no desire to be an overnight sensation, whether it’s a myth or not. Neither do I want fame. What I do want is to be able to support myself with what I enjoy doing. Of the three steps, it’s the last that I struggle with, but I’m getting better.

  3. Diane,

    You are absolutely right about sticking with it. The overnight success stories have taken place over many, many nights until finally, their break knocked on the door and they took advantage.

    One must start creating opportunities before the rules change.

  4. Overnight success is a grossly misused phrase, a misnomer if you will. Even an exceptional quality or rare talent alone is not a guarantee for achieving the elusive status of overnight success. Many highly talented people have faded away within a short time period. One has to nurture his / her talent with years of hard work and consistently practice their trade. And only then, with a dash of luck they might get discovered and become overnight success.

  5. And it’s also not about what you do but what you can do for other people. You may be an expert in something but if you do it for your glory and not to be of service, then you’ll find that only a few people are willing to support you. You have to always go out of your way to help people.

  6. Yes, you need to go out of your way to help people and be noticed for future opportunities. Sometimes, it is not how much you know, but who you know that determines your success.

  7. Diane,

    Interesting article! And don’t forget, always be prepared – as fame will come to you in any moment; don’t let the opportunity catches you off-guard.

  8. Great article, Diane. All 3 of the things you mentioned are important in small business success. I think believing in yourself is at the core. If you don’t believe you can , you won’t.

    • I think it also sometimes takes someone believing in you even if you don’t believe in yourself. The belief someone has in you can make you begin to believe in yourself or believe in yourself more.

  9. I think a lot of it comes down to your passion, believing in yourself and of course what you have to offer. Interestingly enough, overnight sensations usually happen to those who re not actually chasing it!

  10. Thanks for the great comments everyone! Believing in yourself is a really big deal, in my opinion, as well as believing that opportunities will present themselves. Expressing gratitude for the things you have, and the things you are yet to accomplish is a powerful thing as well.

    • Diane, let me tell you, after a handful of years, it’s only in the past few weeks that I’ve started to feel whispers of self belief, that what I want is possible, that I can do it. It took a self-imposed baptism of fyre in the past few weeks to get to that mind state. Belief is a very very big deal. And it’s rooted in fear.

      I’ve also started doing the gratitude thing too, but not for things I’m yet to accomplish, so I’m going to start doing that as well. Thanks for that.

      Take care…

  11. Congratulations Ebele! Taking a leap of faith is a sometimes scary thing. You’ll be amazed at how well the gratitude for the future works. Just remember the key to gratitude is feeling it and then taking action toward that thing. The universe will meet you.

    • Thank you, Diane! I’m looking forward to my future. I used to wait for it to happen. I can’t even believe I’m saying I USED to!

      I think I’m going to keep a gratitude notebook – write in it everyday so I can get into the habit of being thankful.

      Thanks for your advice.

  12. Business success is both an art and a science. An art because your personality and creativity will help in how your information is delivered. It’s a science because you have to have ninja skills and technical expertise in order to solve people’s problems. I like the two examples you used with Susan Boyle and the book The Outliers. Thanks for sharing the post Diane!