Lessons for my 22-Year Old Self- Part 3: Patience, Perseverance and Continued Learning

You don’t have to know what you want to do with your life at age 22- heck some of us don’t even have it all figured out by 30! Yet, it’s a worthwhile exercise to put together a plan and capture your thoughts at this specific moment in time. Today is Lesson #3 in my series. You can check out Lesson #1 right here and Lesson #2 here.

I’m a big fan of John Mayer’s music and his path to success. Like Mayer’s path to success, my love of his music did not happen overnight. It came with time. It wasn’t until I saw him perform live and listened to him speak about his personal journey that I started to develop a connection with him as an artist. That night at Jones Beach three years ago, his guitar-playing and personal journey captivated my imagination in a way very few musicians ever have.

I had a really powerful feeling come over me that even still to this day, is a bit hard to put into words. It felt so real and gripping. I started to think about my life, began to make sense of my past experiences and really made a concentrated effort to keep learning and applying principles like perseverance, dedication and commitment to my daily endeavors.

When I got home from the show that night, I wrote down the following words:

Life is about taking the dreams God plants into our hearts and minds and activating them with faith and desire to carry them out to the best of our ability

They became words to live by for me.

Mayer was a guitar prodigy from the time he was a teenager. He attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston for one year, later dropping out to pursue his music dream in my current home, Atlanta, Georgia. Mayer started his claim to fame by playing clubs and bars just mere miles from where I currently live.

Mayer has spoken of how each night, with each show, he was hoping to build his audience by 10 or 15 more people. He wanted to keep playing in front of bigger crowds, one gig at a time. He knew it wouldn’t happen right away but he felt that perseverance and talent would form a winning combination.

Seven Grammy awards, including 19 nominations, and several multi-platinum records later, it’s safe to say Mayer found success.

If someone with genius-like talent such as John Mayer doesn’t achieve success right away, take heart and know that it’s OK if you aren’t an overnight star. Very, very few people are. Their examples only distort your vision of reality.

They can do harm to your personal growth, confidence and belief in self which is paramount to achieving your dreams. Patience, as the saying goes, is a virtue.

Instant Gratification

Instant success is highly unlikely. In many ways, it would seem so unnatural because it would stunt growth — and life is all about growing and maturing.

One of the battles we all face in our personal lives, careers and independent pursuits is the desire for instant gratification- for things to happen quickly and on our time. Reality begs to differ. Many of us are fortunate to receive what we ask for but not on our time. I’ve grown to believe that life occurs on God’s time. Usually with some lessons learned and a heaping dose of patience.

The world is always challenging us to demonstrate patience. Sometimes, we are well equipped to handle the waiting or, even more difficult, the not-knowing. Other times, a lack of patience can drastically affect our state of mind and handicap our free, lucid thinking. Patience can lead to anxiety which clouds our mind, causing us to worry and focus on fear.

You’ll experience thrills and enjoyment on the journey of instant gratification. But ultimately, you won’t get very far if you only think what you want will come when you want it. For anyone who’s ever dreamed big and desired happiness, love, prosperity and peace of mind, you already know the instant gratification world we live in is telling you a big lie.

That which you value and esteem, which will endure, bring you happiness and light the fire inside of you- with burning embers- never comes quick and easy. This is where patience comes in!

Don’t worry about piecing your life together or hoping that your dream will suddenly take flight in the span of one week or even one year. Sure, there are overnight success stories. But those are few and far between. I have enough examples of friends and acquaintances in my life, who have attained well-acknowledged levels of success and personal achievement, that did not get there in just a few months. In fact, it was more like several years.

Amy Schumer and Her Rise to Fame

Amy Schumer was a very good childhood friend of mine. We’ve known each other since third grade, ran cross country together and hung out frequently in our high school years. Today she is one of the biggest stars in film and TV. But Amy did not just stumble into writing her own script for the movie, Trainwreck, in which she starred.

Amy grinded it out for years acting, honing her craft and performing in comedy clubs all across the United States. The diligence, dedication and effort she put in has manifested itself into her arrival as the worldwide superstar she is today. I saw her blossom into a star on the NBC television show, Last Comic Standing.

This was her coming out party, her introduction to a mass audience. She had a national television platform to show the world how talented she is. She nailed it.

But that was in 2007.

It still took several more years before she earned her own show on Comedy Central and became a household name. I can’t seem to go to the pharmacy or grocery store anymore without seeing her on the cover of a major name magazine. Just remember- this took serious effort and of course, time.

Esteeming the Virtue of Patience

Talent and a tremendous work ethic will take you far in life. Patience, perseverance and a resolute mindset will take you further. Interestingly, you don’t often hear about patience in this context. Patience is a virtue- blah, blah, blah. We know, right?

Patience needs to be explained in clearer, more tangible context as a powerful weapon to possess in the arsenal of our tools for success and happiness. Patience is more than just something that’s good for everyone else to have, but not ourselves. Patience is a trait practiced by the most successful and emotionally intelligent people that I know.

In some ways, patience is almost like a tax- or even, like paying for parking. Hey- it’s necessary. But better if everyone else pays for it. Not us.

The problem with that line of thinking is, when we ignore the virtue of patience, we discount the rhythm of the way the world works. If everything came easily, we’d never have to rely on anyone but ourselves. We live in an interdependent world, one practically screaming at us to rely on other people. People that will somehow be strategically placed in our lives for a reason. If we believe.

Don’t Get Left Behind

What is your field of expertise? Whether you’re a guitar god, comedian, software engineer, project manager or student, you better be prepared for a lifetime of continuous learning. The world moves fast, change is swift and the need for new skills — even in the field that you know best — are essential. Technology influences nearly every profession and we have to be willing to adapt, lest we get left behind.

For some perspective, it may seem hard to believe, but even 20 years ago, some writers were still using typewriters. If you don’t know what a typewriter is, remember (since we’re on the discussion of evolving technology) Google is your best friend! It may sound crazy but I still remember typing term papers during my early high school years on a typewriter.

My family did not get a computer until after I left home for college.

The point is, the writing game changed dramatically with the advent of computers, blogging, digital publishing and the ability to instantly get your message out to billions of people. As have many other professions. I encourage you to establish a solid foundation of bedrock principles for how you value and approach your work.

I also urge you to remain on the lookout for learning courses, professional certifications and avenues to learn something new about a strength — or to expand your mind to gain a new skill.

Whether your thing is social media, broadcasting, carpentry, hair cutting or flying planes, if you want it badly enough, you’ll build time into your schedule to learn. You may need to out of necessity. You may simply want to learn something new. Concentrate your energies on what drives you and titillates you with positive emotions.

I think you’ll find life is much more rewarding when your intellectual curiosity leads you to places that you never could have imagined.

What do you think?

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