February 10, 2021

Being grateful for steady progress


Persistence has two elements.

First is our continued labor, our obstinate continuance in our course of action. That’s the easy part. It’s just physics and forward motion.

The hard part of persistence is the second element, which is our unwillingness to abandon our approach because of outside influence. Our ability to sustain ourselves even without the input of others.

The reason it’s so hard is, we have to see something that isn’t there. We have to be open to the complete possibility of what could be. Believing in our whole heart that our efforts will yield something, even if no one else does.

Hoping that we’ll gradually see things that will give us some recompense for our sacrifices, even if everyone thinks we’re crazy.

Most creative people know this intuitively. We resist work that would otherwise give us the greatest payoff, focus on things that probably won’t yield the most dramatic and immediate results, and trust that who we become along the way will be worth it in the end.

This growth process is frustrating and labor intensive and very few people will congratulate us on our persistence. In fact, many will shit on our entire journey. Probably because they’re bitter about their own.

And yet, there’s really no shortcut. Seinfeld used to say that it takes seven years to find yourself and become a great comedian. That’s a conservative estimate.

Reminds of a screenwriter friend of mine who once joked, if people can talk you out of something with a question, then you don’t really want it.

Persistence is never sexy, rarely popular and seldom rewarded. At least not from the outside.

However, if you can train yourself to love the slog, to do the work for your own reasons, to make your sacrifice worthwhile simply by believing in it, then nobody can take it away from you.

Are you seeking shortcuts, or being grateful for steady progress?