My biggest struggle is my lack of patience.
I expect things to manifest the moment I think them, for my goals to be achieved in one day, one week, one month. Constantly entrenched in an internal monologue that is telling me I’m not working hard enough, fast enough, that I’m not where I want to be yet.
When this mode of thought starts up and goes unchecked- at first I always think I’m doing better. Why, I’m working faster, working more, doing more, running more- but then I finally stop for a moment and I realize that I am lost. I have no idea where I’m actually focusing my energy, I’m just expending it blindly. I can do this for 2 weeks, sometimes 3 months before recognizing that through my lack of patience, I’ve derailed myself and gone off track entirely.
It’s one thing to work consistently, as consistency is the game of winners. However, it’s another to work blindly and without direction. To beat yourself up because you’re not “there” yet.
Patience for me, comes with the knowledge that there is, and there always will be more to do. The list will continue to grow on and on, as soon as one task is completed, another has arisen. This can make some cripple under the weight of being overwhelmed, others exhaust themselves because they try to tackle it all head on, non-stop, 24/7. Those with more energy may be able to pull this off, though I often see them become bitter about their own work, which they used to love.
I believe in the grind.
I believe in working hard.
I believe in working consistently.
I believe more than anything, in being self aware.
The grind is a beautiful thing, but if one doesn’t take a moment to step back and assess their actions, their current strategy, their feelings, their health, their mindset- they too, become lost. Too many times have I crossed paths with, or watched people I know say that they are “grinding”- when they say it there is heat in their breath, madness in their eyes and their smile, when they aren’t speaking, their jaws are clenched tight. At first sight these characters seem productive- they say they are, they act as though they produce great amounts of work, that they are in a constant state of action; they are always busy. They might even get some things done. But it’s these wild beasts, these preachers of the grind, that I see time and time again drown themselves in their attempt to be eternally busy, to look productive- and they end up getting done a whole lot of nothing. Their mind lacks focus, they never finish their thoughts, they have no clear goals of the year, or the next five, ten. They are more focused on feeling and appearing busy than they are actually getting anything done; like dogs chasing their own tails thinking it is the car.
On the flip side, I have met many who have achieved a great multitude of things. They are successful beyond my widest understandings of the word, both in their personal life and business. They are quiet, they are calculative. When you ask them questions they take time to formulate an answer before their response and their responses are usually short, but of great clarity and impact. They hold pace with the crowd, yet they seem to move in slow motion. These men and women are characters of focus and patience.
One evening, I was sitting across the table from several old men. All well off, all successful in their own right. They asked me about what troubled me most in my work life. I said that while I still loved my work, it has given me a level of angst. I felt that no matter how much I worked, I wasn’t seeing the fruits of my labor. I felt like I was treading water and making no headway. One of the men laughed and spoke of instant gratification.
“You’re only twenty!” He barked. “How do you expect to see the fruits of a lifetime of work in one week, in one year? What does that look like? What is your marker of success? What do you consider to be the fruit? Money? Material? To be verified by some outside source? For someone else to tell you that you’re really doing it, that you’re good enough now? Why do you work yourself to death with folly? Why engage in unnecessary stress? Slow down! Think! Three well timed, strategic actions will have far greater impact than even Three weeks of mindless activity.”
Then another asked me, “When is your off day?”
The confusion shown on my face. “When do you spend a day outside of the productive process each week? When do you allocate time to do absolutely nothing? To sit alone, to think, to feel, to ponder? There is as much value in inactivity as there is action, that choosing to be inactive is an act in itself. Even in the midst of a dense week, I will take at least one day to leave it all for a moment and reassess, even if I don’t want to. I take time out so that I can step back from my life and look at it objectively. This allows me to remove emotion and ego from the equation, to remove the constant state of urgency from my mind, to stop and think about what’s going on, where I am, where my energy is being directed, where I’d like to go, and how I’m going to get there.”
This struck me.
I now too, stand by this ritual- for me it’s usually Thursday or Sunday and about an hour a day, every day. This simple process has amplified every aspect of my relationships, my life, my work, and the impact it has- No actions in my work life are done without intent. Everything is part of a larger strategy and a larger vision. I rarely feel so lost as I mentioned in the beginning of this writing. Most importantly it has taught me to be self aware, and to be patient. It taught me to understand that any endeavor of a higher level takes time, years, lifetimes to achieve. It truly is a long game.
Because of this I am patient. I work, but I never slave. I understand now that the fruit is the work itself, everything else is a byproduct of good work and a strong mind. When one takes time to think, learn and decide exactly what it is they want in their life, business and relationships- they also know that they have an entire lifetime to wait and work towards it.