I used to have a friend who had an immense talent for writing. Let’s call him Alex, because I like the name. Alex wrote amazing texts throughout his high school career. He had an incredibly vast knowledge of both the Dutch and English languages, and every time he would find a new way to express himself. He wrote extraordinary poems. Even his memos were beautiful. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that writing was Alex’s great passion and that he decided to become a writer. He told me the whole plan. He was going to buy a plane ticket with the cash he inherited from his uncle, and travel around the world for one and a half years, blogging his experiences, building up traffic so that he could make a living from his blog. Perhaps a little too ambitious, but it sounded like an awesome idea for a gap year and so off he went.
By the time he was back in Belgium, two years had passed and Alex had seen China, Thailand, South-Africa and Argentina. He came home with millions of stories about his journeys and had written exactly five blog posts about them. Five absolutely exceptional blog posts. You can probably guess that his blog didn’t become the next big digital nomad blog. Alex didn’t get it though, how could his blog not take off? Wasn’t his writing amazing? Everyone had said so, his teachers, his friends, even that one university professor who reviewed his work for an essay-writing competition. Ok, perhaps after waiting a little bit longer, he would get there. He waited for another year, writing another two blog posts before eventually giving up. He blamed the system. There’s no future in the arts anyway, it’s all a matter of luck. In order to get discovered you just have to be lucky. Alex gave up on his dream and became a manager at a local grocery store.
Why share this story with you? Because it illustrates a tendency amongst many millennials right now. Alex was amazingly talented, he knew this. He loved writing and had always got tons of praise for his work. The only thing he had to do now was work hard, reach out to other bloggers and have patience – “Hustle”, as Gary Vaynerchuk would say.
Regrettably, he didn’t. Because he was so good he felt entitled to a big blog following. The moment he published his first blog post, he thought the internet would start to revolve around only that. He would instantly become the next J.K. Rowling or Franz Kafka. I realized the same thing two years ago. 15-year-old me, sitting in front of my computer screen playing League of Legends, wondering why I was struggling so much in school. How could I have such terrible grades for physics, chemistry and math’s when my dad is an engineer? Everyone told me I was so smart so why couldn’t I get the grades? On that night, it clicked. Maybe I should put real effort into studying! It sounds so obvious but it felt like God came down from the heavens and planted his wisdom into my brain. For the following two years, I actually studied and got my grades up. My parents were absolutely shocked. A miracle had happened!
But I can hear you thinking: “cool stories Simon, but I don’t feel entitled to success. I know I have to work hard, just give me some tips so I can start becoming more productive.” Well ok, I’ll give you one, a really simple one. Focus on one thing at a time. If you’re like me you probably want to get good grades at school, become a BJJ master, learn Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and have a social life. I know it sounds heartbreaking, but you can’t do that all at once. Instead, you should try to focus on one action at a time. Start with small things. Minor changes will set in motion a chain of dominos with a bigger domino falling each time. Want to improve your posture? Fix it every time you walk through a doorway. Focus on that simple act for 3 weeks and change will happen. While these are minor steps, they are the ones that through the course of time will result in triggering the end results. Respect the process. Anything takes time to get done and see accomplished. And patience, fused and balanced together with hard work, they are the key to this.
Question about this article: What is your story, your thoughts and experiences about hard work and patience? Do let me know below, so I can jump in with you and talk some more about it!
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