Carrie Fisher was quoted as saying “Instant gratification takes too long.” For all of you folks that believe patience is that unattainable pie-in-the-sky dessert only consumable by the virtuous, this post is for you.
When it comes to personal growth, the biggest enemy of the recognition of our progress in this area is our lack of patience. So what happens when we try to hybridize impatience and growth? We engage in these exercises that bears a striking resemblance to making spiritual foie gras. We want to get from point A to point B by the magic of Hollywood editing, where in frame 17:41 the kids are chanting the are-we-there-yet litany and in frame 17:47 we are dragging our suitcases from the minivan to the mother-in-law’s front door.
The operative word here is growth, folks. Growth. Personally, when I think of growth I think of the invisible progress of events shackled to the gravity well of time. I think of imperceptible movement where progress in only evident when one closes their eyes then opens them months later.
When I think of growth I think of a plant’s journey from seed to mature. I think of a child outgrowing their clothes and their bikes and their parents. Now you’re more than welcome to stand in front of that freshly planted seed or your three year-old and say “Hurry up and grow!” but I can imagine much better uses for your time. Nonetheless, we should all know it is an exercise in futility as well as potentially lethal to try to straighten the apical coil on a seedling and prying out its cotyledons or putting little Anthony William on the rack so he can finally dunk on the pee-wee league hoop team.
Unfortunately we often feel that our growth is not occurring when we cannot perceive it. As a result we often take excessive and unnecessary actions to expedite progress. We can’t bear the idea that we are applying the prerequisite effort necessary and there seems to be no response as a result. We don’t want to feel like we are wasting our energy. The most counterintuitive truth that our impatience blinds us to is that the more we try to force progress beyond its natural pace the more we actually impede it. We dump more money into an endeavor hoping to complete it sooner only to find we go broke and completely halt all progress. We try to drum up fans or followers or customers at the expense of investing energy into making our idea or product or service or art more appealing through improving its quality.
I may be no Carrie Fisher; I may not have worn my hair in lateral cranial cinnamon rolls or was briefly married to Paul Simon, but I have my own quotes I like to throw around regarding impatience. Write these down or copy and paste them to somewhere safe:
The problem with instant gratification is it only lasts an instant.
For patient people, things go quicker; for impatient people, things take longer.
I’ll close this with a piece of wisdom once shared with me by Jeff Weiss, a highly inspirational corporate trainer, ironically enough:
How long does anything take or how long should anything take? Quite simply, as long as it takes. When we embrace that notion, we will naturally apply only as much effort as is needed, then the universe will do the rest.