We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life - those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength. – Oswald Chambers

(See this quote illustrated from Zen Pencils)

Perhaps not everyone believes that movies mimic real life, but when I think about some of the most motivational videos I’ve seen, they include some sort of three-minute Hollywood montage where the underdog trains like hell for the upcoming battle of wills. Some that come to mind are Rocky and Kickboxer. Something about them gets you fired up like nothing else! Montages certainly have their virtues when it comes to motivating people and getting them off of their chairs. At the same time, they have another effect.

They set unrealistic expectations of hard work.

I recently watched an awesome talk by Eric Reis, author of The Lean Startup, which really got me thinking about this Hollywood phenomenon. He talks about the movie The Social Network, and the montage that shows how Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook. Essentially, the movie makes Facebook’s creation out to be a quick process and an overnight success. Without a doubt, Facebook quickly rose to success, but they are certainly the anomaly. However, far more sweat and elbow grease went into the creation of Facebook than The Social Network makes it seem.

Here is the dirty, ugly, inconvenient truth:

To master something and/or to have success in your endeavors, you will need to work far longer and harder than you thought was even possible.

That’s why I have such a problem with the movie montage. Growing up, I thought it would only take a few months of sweating and putting in the effort to make my dreams a reality. However, even for the boy genius that is Mark Zuckerberg, his first website was created when he was he was only 15. That means it took him 5 years of learning before he even began to create Facebook, not to mention the years of work after to grow it to what it has become today.

Short-term expectations lead people to give up on their dreams after only months because they have this deep-seated belief that if they were really supposed to have success, they would have it after months of hard work. Since no success has come their way yet, it’s best to settle for a job that pays a wage and provides some certainty.

Success and breakthroughs are on no definite timeline.

It may come very quickly for some who are in the right place at the right time with the right amount of talent, or it may never come at all. I can’t guarantee you that even when you put in hard work for the rest of your life that you’ll be successful. I can, however, make you two promises.

1. You will definitely NOT be successful if you don’t put in the hard work for a very, very long time.

2. If you do put in the hard work, success is likely. Not guaranteed, but likely. However, success is even more likely when you’re putting your head down, with faith in your work, and you invest in the process.

Spark Your Growth

If you’re like I was and have preconceived notions about the path to success and how long it will take, I urge you to reconsider. Hard work is not glamorous. Sometimes it is tedious. Sometimes it’s painful. You’ll probably have to make sacrifices in other areas of your life to pursue your dreams. You’ll be tempted. You’ll fail. You’ll feel unmotivated.

Here’s the good news: When you commit to hard work, and I mean with your whole being, and you commit yourself to a dream, you will separate yourself from the vast majority of people. People won’t notice, and you probably won’t be praised for the work you do behind closed doors. In fact, some people might criticize you, especially if you haven’t been hanging around as much since you've begun your journey.

This is why it’s imperative to believe in yourself and your dream. You need to know that you are on the right path, and that you are capable of achieving. I promise, if you’re reading this, then you already are.