This is one of the great quotes from the movie The Shawshank Redemption. Rob, over at BusinessPundit.com has a great post on what this movie can teach you about entrepreneurship.
Here’s a snippet, but I recommend reading the entire post:
“Overnight successes aren’t really overnight successes. They only seem that way. In The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne spends 19 years digging a tunnel to escape prison. The result is binary. He’s either in prison, or he isn’t. For 19 years, he’s making progress, but he’s still in prison. Then one day he is free. It seems like a huge jump, but it wasn’t.
This happens a lot to entrepreneurs. They go years without reaching the level of success they seek, and when they find it, it often comes in the form of a discontinuity. You go through each day, working hard, not knowing if you will ever see the payoff you hope for, but taking satisfaction in the process of building something. Then one day you are acquired, or go public, or get to the point that you don’t have to be involved every day. All of the sudden it’s different.
Many people in Andy’s position would have tried to break out of Shawshank like this:
1. Get a rock hammer and start digging.
2. Realize it’s going to take a long time.
3. Give up. Or possibly…
4. Get a bigger hammer that gets you caught, and lose any hope of breaking out because the guards keep a better eye on your activities.
5. Start trying again, every time the place really gets to you, but always give up after a few weeks because it’s hard and progress is slow.
The result is that you would spend your life in Shawshank. So the lesson of Andy Dufresne is to keep plugging away. Do whatever you can. It’s all about forward progress. Overnight successes tend to happen to people that have put in years of paying their dues.”