If you're a young professional, it's easy to get caught up in the young entrepreneurs making it big early. Mark Zuckerberg, Sean Parker, Tom from MySpace...all of these guys found more success in the first decade of their professional lives than most of us could ever dream of.
But that's why they make news. Because it's not normal.
Even beyond the tech prodigies of today, it's easy to play a comparison game with those folks in similar industries as us but seeing a lot of success. When your in your late 20s like me, falling into a comparison trap is easy. We live in a world of instant gratification and having to take years to grind out success appears almost countercultural.
One day as I was having one of those comparison moments, wandering if I had done enough to "make it" and ran across this tweet from @PaulAngone:
Your 20s aren't about what you harvest, but what you plant in the ground. #Millennials
— Paul Angone (@PaulAngone) September 15, 2014
It's easy to want to rush success but some of the most successful people out there didn't strike gold early. They worked hard, stayed disciplined and worked at their craft for a very long time before experiencing what others perceive as an "overnight success."
Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy is a great example of years of hard work bearing fruit. His restaurant chain is one of the most successful in the country. He became a billionaire several times over and was one of the most highly regarded businessmen in our lifetime. However, it wasn't until this last week that I realized the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich didn't come about until he was in his early 40s.
At a time when most of us dream of kicking back and retiring, his dream was just getting started. He had been in the restaurant business for a couple of decades before things really took off. Sure, he became one of the most successful businessmen out there at the time of his passing a few weeks ago, but he was also 93 years old.
93 years is a long time to work on building a lifetime of work. Makes me feel silly when I put pressure on my career at age 27.
Great things take time to come to fruition, not just careers. Financial experts will tell you that it's not a salary that builds wealth but great habits that continue building over a long period of time. In long distance running, you don't get fast overnight but after months (if not years) of long, grueling miles. Many bloggers will tell you (myself included) that it took years of consistently publishing posts before they retained any sizable audience.
We'll be working for a long time
When contemplating my last job switch, moving from Engauge to DeMoss, I had a phone call with a career mentor of mine asking for his two cents. I was stressing out on what would be the right move. After hearing him out, he finished the call by saying:
No matter what decision you end up making, you're going to be working for a long time. You might as well be enjoying what you do.
It's easy to look at our careers, or even our entire lives, through a narrow scope instead of viewing everything from a bigger picture. We get wrapped up in wondering why everything doesn't happen now.
Achieving anything worthwhile takes time. We should focus on the process (planting) and enjoy it as much as we can. The harvest will come when it's ready.
What seeds are you planting?