Ask a “successful” person for advice on how they achieved that success and one common answer will always be “you gotta have patience.” It’s often surprising to find out that someone’s success didn’t just happen during the past year or month and that the proverbial “overnight success” is not really a thing.
Somewhere along the path of life people have lost sight of the fact that day-to-day grinding out can lead to something amazing. We stopped wanting to wait for things. We wanted a six figure salary, now. We wanted our dream career, now. We want to be entertained, now.
Perhaps it’s because technological advancements are conditioning us, enabling ourselves to have the things we want, right now.
- Uber: You driver Sam will arrive in nine minutes.
- Video on Demand: Your selection will begin momentarily.
- TV series binge watching: Season 2, Episode 3 will begin in 3, 2, 1 …
- Amazon Prime Now: Free 2-hour delivery.
Need I say more? Whoever thought Amazon One-Click, next day shipping would be the “slow” option?
But I believe the culture of “need it now” started well before app-based transportation service requests and Google searches that give 478,000 results in .61 seconds.
It began in the early 1990s when full-length vinyl records and cassette tapes were phasing out.
When Patience Pays Off
For those reading this, born post-1989, there was this crazy era before compacts discs, digital music downloads and streaming music services. An album’s worth of music was pressed onto two sides of a 12-inch piece of vinyl. To listen we’d put the needle on the first song of side A and let it play all the way through, the only lament being in about 30 minutes we’d have to walk back to the record player, flip to side B and then finish listening to the album.
And that is what was so special about a vinyl record. We took the time and exercised our patience as we listened to the album in its entirety.
We’d spend time looking at the album cover graphics. We’d read the liner notes that described the process in making the album, as well as the friends and family the artist/band wanted to thank for supporting the project. We’d look through the photos that were part of that booklet, and if we were really lucky, follow along with the lyrics that were also included.
All of that, along with listening to the music, was an immersive activity that we set aside time to experience.
These days it’s so easy to skip around as we listen to music. In addition to failing to listen to the whole album, we’re not even listening to a song in its entirety. We listen to the part of the song we enjoy, and then frantically tap away at the “next track” button, looking like one of those characters in Michael Bay movie trying to crack a computer code under a really stressful deadline.
Back in the day, if you started listening to Synchronicity (the 1984 Album of the Year by the Police) because you wanted to sing along to “Every Breath You Take,” you were also going to listen to the next songs “King of Pain,” “Wrapped Around Your Finger” and some random song titled “Tea in the Sahara.” And you know what would happen? Because you listened all the way through, you’d discover a gem of a song that you actually liked a better than “Every Breath You Take.”
And that’s the key right there — patience with a payoff.
Whether it’s discovering a new song, or taking the long way home, or just biding your time as you await some goal; big payoffs only come with patience. You won’t find new opportunities if you change course — A.K.A. hit the “next” button — when things get hard, or it seems like the goal is too far into the future.
There was a time when patience was the only option. Life didn’t have built it fast forward buttons. In the same way, we are being conditioned to be impatient; we can recondition ourselves to be patient.
So start listening to whole albums again. Read a magazine from page one all the way to the end (including the advertisements). Start a Netflix series and stick with it. Exercising these seemingly simple acts of patience may lead you to uncover patience in the aspects of life that really matter.