I began taking guitar lessons in college. I never had any interest in playing in a band or being a rock star. I just had a lot of friends who played guitar, and it seemed fun and relaxing. So I figured I would invest in a guitar and learn how to play just as a hobby. Here is the problem. Several weeks into my lessons, I was not playing all of my favorite songs. My teacher had me learning scales. How boring. I wasn’t interested in playing scales. Nobody listened to scales. I couldn’t go to parties and play scales with my friends. I was getting antsy and impatient. Thankfully I had a teacher who was firm and committed to me learning how to play the guitar, not just how to mimic all of my favorite songs from the radio.
It’s hard to be patient, to wait for what we want. This is what Seth Godin writes. “Slow and steady. The hard part is ‘steady.’ Anyone can go slow. It takes a special kind of commitment to do it steadily, drip after drip until you get where you’re going.” Man, this is so true, painfully so. And now probably more than any other time in history. We have been almost trained in many ways by the world around us to expect immediate gratification and solution. Access to pretty much everything is so easy now, that we have begun to lose the art of working and waiting. If I can’t remember a movie title, I just go to IMDB. If I can’t remember the ingredients in a recipe, I just Google pumpkin pancakes and I instantly have pages of recipes. Whatever I want, I can get, right now. Which makes for some significant frustration when something doesn’t come easily or quickly. I think sometimes we even feel like maybe we are doing it wrong if it doesn’t happen right now.
Don’t let yourself be fooled though. Even though we live in the digital age that provides such easy answers and access, we still know deep down that in general, the things that really matter take time and steady commitment. Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book The Outliers about the 10,000 Hour Rule for success, referencing the principle of committing to 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to be world-class in any field. Now he doesn’t write that these hours will automatically make you a success, but instead that they drastically increase your chances.
Slow and steady. Is that how you are committed to running your organization? Growing your business? Raising up a new generation of leaders? Be patient. Be diligent. Remember that if you learn some chords, you can play a few songs that have those chords. If you slowly and steadily learn notes and scales and how chords are created, you can play any song you want.
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