It’s been one of those years that tests our resolve and determination. Opportunities have come embedded within hard times for many and a prevelant question that keeps popping up is how to succeed ?
But it’s also been one of those times that has tested a concept that was taught to me some time ago but I’ve always grappled with. It doesn’t matter if you’re an entrepreneur or an employee, at the core of the highest goals lies persistence in the face of adversity.
We’ve touched on the crippling effect of instant gratification in the past but I find it helpful to contrast the world I live in today and the things that frustrate me, with how things were some 10 and 20 years ago.
We live in a world where literally the dreams of yesterday are coming to fruition and it is truly insane when you really think about it.
Recently I had a good mate of mine approach me and tell me that he was quitting his job as he didn’t feel like he was making an impact and that the job was rewarding. All valid reasons of course, but he had been at the job for a year. He already wanted to know, how to succeed in a job that was draining his passion.
And it’s funny – my initial response was not to give up, but it made me realise that in recent history I had on several occasions done just that, far too readily as have people that I’ve been working with.
When I was a kid, I’d save pennies hoping to pay for a Nintendo or Sega game. I’d get excited about the new series of cartoons and tv shows and look forwards to talking with friends about what happened the night before.
I’d get excited to tell friends about the news I’d read in a magazine and if I was lucky, I’d get them on the phone for a half hour to actually conversate about it.
I’d get excited about pizza night where we’d pick up a phone and go through a paper menu deciding whether to gamble on something new.
Fast forward a decade or two and if I want a movie, I make a few taps on a phone. New games are bought in a matter of seconds and transmitted straight to my front room. Hungry? I can see photos of exactly what I’m ordering, search what other people thought of it and have someone bring it to my house. I can even look at where they are if they’re taking a little long, giving me answers as to whether they’re probably stuck at traffic lights or taking a longer route.
Hell, I can LITERALLY exist without a computer today, managing my life, business, finances, memories, interactions all in a phone that is now 4 times more powerful than a top spec computer in the early 2000’s.
When I used to struggle with getting businessess off the ground, I’d type ‘how to succeed’ into google and recieved a pelethorah of ideas and theories in an instant.
Insane. But why is that relevant?
What is the upshot of all of this? My standard of patience that I expect to spend on virtually anything has been smashed to peices.
Most things I can get NOW. If I can’t get them now, I can get them in days. If they don’t come when I expect them to, I can find out where they are or reach out to thousands of people with answers. If I have a problem, the answer is literally in my pocket.
I don’t think we appreciate how remarkable that is nearly enough. In 1999 doing school projects, I would either have a parent take me to the library, or delve in the encyclopedia. Books which contained knowledge. Around 50 of them each some 10cm thick and leather bound, costing thousands. And amazingly, out of date from the day they were printed.
The information once contained in these books, is now but a minute fraction of the information at your fingertips. With this shift in effortless capabilities, comes a shift in expectation. We throw the smallest accomplishmet out there and receive likes in moments from people you may have never met. We see 20 more people who have the same accomplishment but 10 times as big and feel miniscule by the 1,000 more likes and comments they receive. Rather than asking these people How to succeed, most tend to jump to ‘these people have it so good’.
It gives us accomplishment anxiety.
Because everything is so instant today, we expect all aspects of life, jobs, progress, relationships to be so instantly gratuitous. Ratified with minimal effort.
And unless kept in check it is extremely damaging.
You may have heard the analogy of the Bamboo tree by now. It’s a simple idea, that draws very relevant parallels to success. But Importantly, as always Success isn’t necessarily riches. It’s your own definition. Happiness, Wealth, Business, Independence, whatever success is to you, it is all about progress and persistence.
You look around and see Bamboo used widely in parts of the world. In construction, health products, for clothes, for jewelry. The list goes on and on. It can be used as scaffolding or to produce underwear. You’d be excused for understating the plentiful availability of something so strong, so universal.
But like any plant, the Bamboo tree needs nurturing and certain species can be a masterclass in patience. Protecting. In year one, it lays beneath the soil as a seedling. It requires the correct environment, constant watering. In year one or two you might not see any growth, or if you do, small shoots that don’t amount to anything impressive. Years tree to four you might start to see more shoots and more growth. But sure enough, in years 5-7 the Bamboo reaches its maturity. At this point, it can grow up to three foot a DAY. That is the length of a Yacht in a week.
Had the farmer given up in those early years, they would not have had the towering bamboo giants that will travel the world. He would have never had learned how to succeed; he would have abandoned his potential yield.
And that’s a lot like any successful journey.
You may be in a period of slow growth. So slow, perhaps you can’t see it at all. But as long as you are consistently watering the plant, growing, working; you are laying the foundations of phenomenal, exponential growth. You may be days or years away, but with consistent energy, learning and development comes progress. With consistent progress comes a tipping point where the thoughts and ambitions become constant reality.
The hard part of course is that this often takes flipping your mindset on its head and replacing thoughts of giving up with a steadfast determination and long-game.
Instead of asking the question of ‘how to succeed’, ask yourself ‘how long have I REALLY been trying for’. The answer may be looking you in the eye every morning while you brush your teeth.
The key here is to keep yourself in check.
Be inspired by what you see, not influenced. Consider what you see, not compare.
Persist, Grow, Overcome. It won’t come easily, but one day it will seem like it did, so the important message is that you may be working your hardest, dealing with the toughest conditions – but that progress will be the foundation for your exponential growth – as long as you continue to let yourself grow.