Grammys, Mushrooms, and the Practice of Patience

patience

You know what there isn’t enough of these days?

No, not Twinkies.

Patience.

Here in Wisconsin, it appears that Spring didn’t get the memo about showing up. The weather suggests that Old Man Winter is holding on for dear life. I can’t help but wonder if the slight sense of panic that is bubbling up among citizens of the North is partially caused by our lack of patience. With smartphones keeping us constantly connected, our DVRs editing out commercials, and information on Twitter speeding by at warp speed, patience is more scarce (and valuable) than ever.

Marketers promise and the media celebrates fast growth and overnight success. And yet I was intrigued to hear the lead singer of of the band Fun accept the Song of the Year Grammy award for We Are Young. “I don’t know what I was thinking writing the chorus for this song,” he said. “If this is in HD, everyone can see our faces and we are not very young.” He shared that he and his mates had been working at their craft for twelve years.

Later in the evening, they’d go on to win the Grammy for Best NEW Artist. Go figure.

It’s easy to search for the quick fix, the easy shortcut, the secret 7-step solution that will shave years off our learning curve. Dissatisfied with advice like “do the work,” “write every day,” or “put in your 10,000 hours,” it’s not uncommon to either give up altogether or keep looking for something less…time intensive. Only to find ourselves five years later in the same exact spot, while we could have been light years ahead, if only we’d heeded that old boring advice.

Sure, there are some flash-in-the-pans and one-hit-wonders, but those fade away. The stuff that lasts takes time to develop.

I once heard a brilliant comparison between a mushroom and an oak tree. A mushroom grows extremely fast. An oak tree, on the other hand, not so much. It takes years to fully develop into the tall, sturdy, impressive specimen that it will eventually become.

The practice of patience leads to great things.

For although the mushroom grows faster, in the end, it’s still just a fungus.

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  1. [...] or years or decades. It just takes as long as it takes. Don’t get fooled into thinking that anything good happens overnight, and don’t get discouraged by the rejections, failures, and the 12-car pileups that will [...]