Patience is a virtue. We've all heard these words of wisdom throughout our lives, but after years of repetition, they've failed to make a lasting impact on our daily habits. We live in a world of constant motion and communication, and that has created a sense of urgency that we feel should be applicable to all aspects of our lives, including our careers. This post applies particularly to the younger generation, who feel that they're ready for the workforce and don't want to start out in entry-level positions for the first 3-5 years of their post-college careers.
To be clear, when I write about having patience in a chosen field, I'm speaking from experience. I'm 26-years-old, recently graduated from college, and just left a job due in part to the time that it would have taken to progress through the ranks and reach a position that I felt would provide the opportunities I desired. The position I've transitioned into is a return for me to a military position I held a few years ago, and it is a chance for me to pursue other goals that I've set for my life outside of the military. These goals will take time to materialize, and it may be 5-10 years before I can check all of them off of my list, but I'm willing to put in the necessary work and wait the time in order to accomplish those goals. The transitioning of jobs is simply a step I can take to help provide financial and personal opportunities for me and my family while I pursue those dreams.
Getting back to patience, there are so many people who lack the ability to wait out the time it takes to create long-term, tangible success. Anything worth accomplishing cannot be achieved overnight. It cannot be achieved in a week or a month or even a year. Life-changing accomplishments (founding a non-profit for children, writing a best-selling book, becoming a physician, giving a keynote speech) are not singular moments in your life where something amazing happens. No, they are an accumulation of years of dedication, focus, hard work, and a little bit of luck. These moments have come to fruition because of detailed planning and continued execution. They are the results of early mornings, and evenings spent working while others were going out on the weekends or watching football. And they are the results of being patient in the pursuit of ones dreams.
With that being said, there is a certain level of balance that must be maintained as you continue your work. It's a balance between striving for success/new goals, and maintaining the patience to make those goals become a reality. It's a difficult line to ride, because to truly achieve the highest level of success, you have to be willing to push yourself farther, learn new skills, and adapt to changing environments in your field. At the same time, these kinds of changes can take time, and patience will play a large role in seeing these changes through to the fullest. It's not enough just to work all of the time; You also have to adapt and change what isn't working. And as you do this repeatedly, you will begin to see results. From there, be patient and continue to work and adapt.
I've experienced this myself regarding two of my life-long goals (publishing a book and starting a business). In regards to writing, I've wanted to become a published author since I was 12-years-old, and I can't remember a time since that age that I have not been writing. Since that time, I've completed three manuscripts that I felt were worthy of publishing, but each one has been rejected by every agent that I've submitted them to, and more times than not I have received no response. A few of the books that I've written have taken upwards of two years to complete, and that amount of time can weigh on you if you are not focused and determined. It would have been easy for me to simply say, "Publishing a book is nearly impossible. I've wasted two years on this book, and it's not good enough. I'll just quit". It's what most people do when confronted with a challenge on the road to their goals. But I've set to see this goal through, and I continue to write every day.
A lack of patience can prove incredibly damaging to you and your dreams. Here's an example: In 1999, an internal portal company called Excite (then a large player in internet platform operations) had the opportunity to purchase Google for a whopping $750,000. At the time, Google was a young start-up looking to ride the waves of the 1990's dotcom bubble, and Excite received the offer in order to provide Google with additional funds and platform availability. Amazingly, Excite refused the offer. As we all know, Google is now the largest internet information platform, has branched out into multiple technological fields of research and development, and is worth an estimated $180 billion. For those that are wondering, Excite lost a large mount of its share value after the dotcom bubble burst in the early 2000's and was eventually bought out by a competitor.
Why did I share this story? Because it shows a lack of patience on Excite's part in their inability to see Google ultimate worth and invest the time/money to see that worth through. If the CEO of Excite at the time had had the patience to develop Google into a large-spread internet operation, he could have helped build one of the largest and most successful companies in recent memory. Instead, he was too focused on the short-term to realize the potential that stood before him.
The same lesson holds true with you and your dreams. I know that there is something great that you are capable of completing, some major goal that you wanted to accomplish at one point in your life. But in order to make that dream a reality, you have to stay the course and remain patient. Do the work that's necessary, but be patient. Greatness takes time.
"Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
― Earl Nightingale
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