The next stop on the Road to Twelve and a Half brings us to a trait I’ve talked about an insane amount over the years: patience. Funnily enough, it’s also a topic that I think can sometimes confuse people as they get deeper and deeper into my content. On the one hand, people hear me talk about being patient and playing the long game, but on the other, they see how much I value speed and execution. At first glance, this might seem like a contradiction, but it’s really not.
What many people are misinterpreting is that it’s not about either-or…it’s about both. Macro patience and micro speed — in my opinion, that’s the winning combination. Unfortunately for a lot of people, their messed up relationship with time leads to a lot of rushed decisions, bad priorities, and unhappiness.
If you take anything away from this blog, I hope it’s the fact that you can be both patient and ambitious. In fact, building true patience is one of the most practical ways to reach your life goals…and enjoy yourself in the process.
What is Patience?
The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
Raghav Haran (my writer and partner in making Twelve and a Half) pointed out as we were writing the “patience” section of the book that he didn’t expect to see “tolerate . . . suffering without getting angry or upset” in the definition, and I didn’t either.
I feel a close association with this word and how it’s defined
From 2007 to 2011, I replied to every single email and tweet I got until four in the morning. Nobody knew who I was at the time, so I would go into Twitter search, look up wine terms, and jump into conversations with my advice, questions, and recommendations. For example, someone would tweet, “Having this pinot noir,” and I would reply, “That’s a good one. Did you try the year before?”
These people didn’t know me, but slowly and surely — after hours and hours and years and years — I built a foundation that later became the start of what people see now.
Patience is a lost art
Fast forward to today, and I can’t tell you how many comments, Instagram DMs, and emails I get from people telling me “it’s not working.” Either their business isn’t making any sales or their posts aren’t going viral or they’re not gaining followers quickly enough. People start a TikTok account, post 5 times, don’t go viral, and they’re like, “this sucks! I’m done.”
It makes me sad to see that patience truly is a lost art. Part of it is because this is a trait that comes so naturally to me. For whatever reason — DNA, circumstance, or maybe seeing my immigrant parents work forever — I was gifted with both extreme patience and extreme ambition. As I got older, I came to realize that this wasn’t as common in others as I thought.
“Patience is a core ingredient to the lightness I feel inside. When you have a good relationship with time, the pressure is lifted and you can do so much more.” – Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success
One of the reasons I talk about patience so often is because I know the happiness it has brought to my life, and I want that for all of you as well. It’s why I approach my huge goals — like building VeeFriends IP for the next 45 years or buying the New York Jets — as a fun, exciting game instead of a crushing need or pressure.
At the end of the day, patience allows me to focus on playing the game while the score takes care of itself.
Patience and Ambition Go Hand in Hand
Similar to kindness, patience is another trait that people don’t immediately think of when they think of business success — especially for the super-ambitious. They want the wins and they want them now, so patience can feel counterintuitive to the big goals they’ve set for themselves.
In my opinion, patience isn’t a hindrance to success — it’s a key component. Ambition and tenacity are amazing things to have, but if they go unchecked, they can lead to some negative effects like anxiety, lack of self-confidence, and burnout. The best way to keep your ambition under control is by having an equal amount of patience to balance it out.
“Those who are patient aren’t any less ambitious or tenacious. In fact, patience can give you permission to dream bigger.” – Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success
Not only does patience help you dream bigger, it also gives you the power and the perspective to endure the “losses.” It’s the lack of patience to accept small wins and in fact small losses that is holding so many back, clouding perspective, and adding anxiety to situations that don’t need it.
Make sure you deploy patience to give yourself the chance to practically achieve all of your ambitions, instead of being impatient and burning out too quickly. This is a long game, and if you play it like one, you will be more ambitious, happy, and fulfilled for a longer time.
Impatience and Insecurity
In general, I think that impatience comes from insecurity. People are insecure about other people’s opinions about where they are in life, what they’re doing, how they’re living, and how much stuff they have, so they want to rush to a level of success others will approve of.
“Insecurity festers without the fertilizer of patience. When you’re desperate to prove something to other people in the short term, you don’t give yourself a chance to enjoy the process. When you don’t enjoy the process, you become more vulnerable to burnout.” – Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success
They’re also often insecure about how much time they have left. So many young people think they need to have their lives all figured out or become millionaires by the time they hit 30, and if they don’t, they beat themselves up for being “behind.” I really want to help change the way we interact with time.
Yes, it’s true that you’re gonna die; anyone who consumes my content has heard me say that a hundred times. On the other hand, unless you’re gonna die soon, you should really only be playing long term. For example, I know that I’m gonna be a businessman for the rest of my life. That self-awareness allows me to act fast in the micro, or my day-to-day execution, but be patient in my macro, long-term goals. In other words, when you have the self-awareness to know who you are and what you want, you’re not insecure about the time it takes to get there.
You Have More Time Than You Think
Another thing I want people to realize is that they have way more time than they think. We get sold so many things, like “life is short,” but if you think about it, so many of the rules in society of when you’re “supposed” to have your life figured out — get married, accomplish different milestones — are predicated on a world where people lived to 45 years old.
So much of what we’re affected by now is still based on how our parents were affected by their parents and grandparents…but back then, people were dying much earlier! Of course you should have your life figured out by 30 or 40 when you’re dead at 47! The truth is that things are different today. Think about it. If life-expectancy is now close to 80 years old, doesn’t that mean we have even more time to reach our goals? Shouldn’t we be more patient?
“At forty-six years old as this book comes out, I’m still patient. I’m not in a rush to realize my dreams in the next few years — I’m excited about the next forty-six.” – Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success
What I want is for you to realize that yes, huge goals take time. In fact, I believe everything takes longer than you think, especially when you’re aspiring to levels of greatness most people don’t reach. On the other side of that, though, understand that you’re not “lost” or “stuck,” you’re just early in the process.
If it’s important to you, keep going, keep your head down, execute, and be patient. If I’m planning to execute for the next 45 years, you can do the same…and if you find yourself rushing the process, ask yourself why. Whose affirmation or approval are you looking for? Who are you looking for to say that you “did it?” Then put the focus back on you and get shit done.
I believe the disproportionate reason that most people will not win is actually not the hard work, it’s their lack of patience. If you find something you love to do and you want it to be your life, how can you possibly give up after a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years? Remember, there is no quick cure. The hard work matters and patience is what overrides it. Don’t worry about getting “there” by a certain time or a certain age — just enjoy the game.
Thank you so much for reading! I’d love to hear your two cents on Twitter.