Authors love to pontificate about how many publishers rejected them before they made it big.
Personally, I never chose to participate in that literary pissing contest. I’ve always practiced Miyagi’s Law, which states that the best way to block a punch is to not be there.
Want know how many publishers rejected my book?
Because I did it myself.
In fact, I did it myself eleven times in eight years. That’s more books than some authors publish in their lifetime.
SO: To what strategy do I attribute my supernatural productivity?
Number one, I’m single.
No explanation needed there.
But number two, I’m impatient.
And I don’t mean, like, I roll my eyes and huff under my breath at supermarket cashiers who take ten minutes to count my change.
I’m talking about strategic impatience.
Ask any entrepreneur in the world – it’s in our blood.
We don’t wait for things. We just go. We just do stuff.
Today I’m going to challenge you to practice strategic impatience as a viable, profitable approach for achieving your professional goals.
1. What’s next? Without a doubt, these are the two most important words in the impatient professional’s vocabulary. I urge you to ask yourself this question throughout the day to resurrect declining momentum and require forward action.
Now, that doesn’t mean abandon whatever current project requires your attention. It’s like rock climbing: You secure a grip in your right hand while searching for the next hold with your left hand.
Then, as soon as you lock your fingers into place, you swing forward into the next action. Always ascending with one hand secure, but never dwelling on the rocks of the past.
Apply that principle to your professional efforts, and you’ll scale the entrepreneurial mountain in no time. What is your legacy of taking action?
2. Assess the irrelevant – then discard it. From “crazy-idea-for-a-book” to “actually-in-my-hand-so-I-can-smell-the-book,” my first title, HELLO, my name is Scott, took over a year to complete. My second book took two years. My third book took eight months. My fourth book took six months. And now that I’m well past my tenth title, I average about five months a book, or three a year.
What happened? What divine force was at work?
Simple: I learned which corners I could cut.
That meant: No big publishers. No useless planning. No more getting ready to get ready. No more making pointless outlines. No more rewrites. No more soliciting blurbs from “experts” whose testimonials added zero value. No more endless rounds of quasi-editing from unqualified people whose opinions don’t matter anyway. And no more killing myself over the perfection of every single sentence until the book was flawless.
As my layout designer so eloquently put it, “Scott, this is your thirteenth draft. Let it be.”
Whew. What a load off.
Remember: The quicker you decide what doesn’t matter, the less debris stands in your way of execution. If you didn’t spend all your time managing and stressing over counterproductive time-wasters, what might you accomplish?
3. Go it alone. Thoreau was right: “The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” That’s the problem with collaboration. Or teams. Or partnerships. Or committees. The more people you have, the longer it takes to move.
Not that you should be opposed to working with others. No man is an island. But don’t allow your dreams to be realized at a significantly slower pace because you’re too busy looking over your shoulder. That’s how once-great ideas fizzle.
Sadly, since day one of preschool, we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that teamwork is the secret. That working together is the answer.
This is a force-fed fairytale that’s annihilating your ability to execute.
Ultimately, your romantic notion of the value of teams is shooting you in the foot. He who travels alone travels fastest. How much money are you losing by waiting for somebody you don’t even like?
4. Put yourself out of your misery. Waiting can feel like a slow death. Especially at the dentist. But inasmuch as patience is a virtue – and I consistently practice this idea in many domains of my life – impatience can also be a huge victory. Especially when practiced purposely.
Interestingly, the root of the word “patience” is pati, or, “to suffer.” Which means the word “impatience” literally means, “without suffering.”
That’s the freeing part. When you give yourself permission to be impatient, you end your own suffering. The secret is creating a deficit position for yourself by honestly asking questions like:
*If you don’t do this – will the world end?
*How much money is being (too) patient costing you?
*Are the tasks on today’s agenda worthy of your life?
*What is the need for perfection preventing you from doing, being and having?
Admit it: It’s time to grab your shotgun, walk patience out to the barn and put that little bastard out of its misery. Are you willing stop waiting and swing into action?
5. Develop massive intolerance for the inconsequential. As long as I’m pitting against timeless virtues, I may as well talk smack about tolerance too. So, no offense to the Dalai Lama, but what a crock. Tolerance? Yet another veil that needs to be pulled back.
Naturally, I’m not talking about tolerating people of difference cultures. Rather, I’m refereeing to the intolerance for:
Senseless barriers and constraints. Non-stop interruptions. Delay and opposition. The need to get approval or permission. The illusion that you have to be “amazing” or “experienced” or “ready.” The fairytale that you need to know what you’re doing.
Tolerating any of these things will not bring you closer to your dream. Ever. What unnecessaries are you courageous enough to commit a hate crime against?
6. Tap into your natural sense of urgency. Because I was born in 1980, you might suspect that my impatience is a generational attribute. And I think there’s some truth to that.
Still, inasmuch as my generation favors the A.D.D., instant-gratification, hyperspeed mindset, I’d say impatience is more of an entrepreneurial bent.
Consider Dr. Edith Martin, born in the 1950’s, whose resume will astound you: Doctoral Graduate of Georgia Tech, former VP of Boeing’s High Technology Center and CIO of the DC-based satellite system, Intellesat.
In a recent alumni newsletter, she said the following: “Impatience is an important part of being an entrepreneur. The complement of impatience is motivation. It’s having a vision of what can be done, having a desire to realize that vision, and not being tied to how things occur traditionally – but a willingness to break new ground. That’s willingness, not a need – just willingness. And you don’t do it just for its own sake.”
Lesson learned: Even if you’re not thirty years old, and even if you don’t consider yourself an entrepreneur, you can still embrace restless expectation, eagerness for change and be raring to go. What do you need to give yourself permission to stop waiting for?
7. Learn to dislike anything that causes delay. Delay is injustice. Especially when you’re changing the world, which I imagine you are. The trick is to (either) discard anything that looks like a delay before it consumes your clock; or to plan for delay by execute multiple projects simultaneously.
For example, I have writer colleagues who stalemate themselves by only working on one book at a time. “Well, I haven’t gotten much writing done this month since my new book is being edited…”
Bullshit. Why aren’t you working on your next book in limbo? Do you think your current book is going to get jealous?
Books don’t have feelings – they have ink. And the opposite of impatience isn’t patience – it’s idleness.
Get in the habit of asking yourself, “What essential tasks can I accomplish while I’m waiting?” Soon, the only delays you’ll experience are the long lines at the bank when you’re depositing your checks. How will you leverage wait time to take massive, productive and immediate action?
8. Victory fuels impatience. In 2009, Bill and Melinda Gates made a historic presentation to the US Government entitled, Living Proof. During her opening remarks, Melinda said the following:
“The world is getting better – but not fast enough. Unfortunately, it’s not getting better for everyone. But we’ve seen the living proof that global healthcare really can work. And that’s the kind of thing that makes us impatient optimists.”
What about you? I wonder what would happen if you pinpointed a little living proof in your body of experience to prove the payoff of impatience. How could you reinforce that proof to fuel your immediate progress?
REMEMBER: Patience might be a virtue – but impatience pays the mortgage.
The Dalai Lama will forgive you.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How much money is being impatient costing you?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
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