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Patience is an Ember

At this current moment, the thing that I struggle with the most in my life is patience. As a matter of fact, my entire life I have struggled with being patient. My mother always used to tell me how impatient I was and that patience was a virtue. I never really took it on board or explored that idea because I was always too frustrated with whatever I was impatient about (sorry about that mom.)


However as I get older, I now understand patience for what it really is. Patience is merely the process, not the result. A similar misconception surrounds success, which is really in the journey and not a final destination.


See we have everything all wrong when we think about success, rewards, satisfaction and really everything else in the world. To achieve success, you first become that successful person.


To write an epic you cannot simply sit down and write a thousand pages with a combination of the best words ever laid to paper, instead you must become a writer. To become a writer you must write one page. And then another. And then another. The continuous effort to a craft that you have dedicated yourself to, continuously sharpening your own iron to be the best you can be.


What greatness really is, is the process. You must learn to trust the process. In the basketball world, that term has been beaten down and probably overused, but nonetheless it rings true. The really allow yourself to sink into the process and pour your heart into it, the more satisfying that end result will be. That is true success. The more you give, the more you receive and because success is such a subjective measurement, only you can truly understand your own success and only you can appreciate that feeling.


Our impatience stems from when we are looking for the final result. We can never know the final result until we get there, so why do we constantly look for it and what does that do to us?


Well the final result is what we want right here and right now. It is what we crave and desire. You cannot appreciate the end result without the struggle, adversity, peaks and valleys that you will endure. That would be like me promising you ice cream, but really giving you that fat free, soy stuff that tastes like cardboard (just a little humour people.) Would you really enjoy that ice cream? Probably not.


When you are searching for the final result, you cannot enjoy what is right in front of you. You begin to live for what may only be seconds of your lifetime. It is in our human nature to always want more, so when we reach the peak of the mountain we are climbing, we immediately look around to find the next mountain.


You could have climbed K2, only to be unsatisfied and begin looking for Everest. What if you never find Everest and K2 was actually your Everest in disguise. Sure you would have reached a goal but you never stopped to enjoy it because it wasn't your Everest, or so you thought.


For me, I can tend to lose sight of what I am doing today. There are days when I am centred and I enjoy my days and the progress I am making on all fronts. Then there are moments where I become unbalanced, impatient and want to implode. I am here to be honest with you because that is what good leadership is about, honesty and transparency.


In my big vision and the road I want to travel, I am not here to impact people on a scale of thousands, I am here to impact people in the millions if not tens of millions. I have my entire life ahead of me (however long that may be) and I am going to put my vision to the test.


I am a huge believer in visualisation. If you can see your future, you can be your future. If you are afraid of what it takes to become that person, you better learn to run towards that fear because that is your guide in this life.


However, if I am going to impact tens of millions of people, I better become the person necessary to do so. Queue the embers.


A forest fire that blazes across tens of thousands of acres is daunting, dangerous and powerful. To the general public, that fear is well warranted. But a firefighter, while they are cautious of the burning inferno, they are more fearful of something else- the tiny ember.


See, it was the tiny ember that started the blaze. And just like that tiny ember that started the inferno, it is the writer who writes one paragraph that turns into a page, and a page that turns into an epic. Without patience, the process can never grow.


Now you say, "well a fire happens quickly and can spread in the blink of an eye so that isn't about patience." That may be true, then use the example of bamboo. Bamboo lives underground for up to five years, growing strong roots, ensuring there is a sustainable system win place that will allow it to grow.


Five years passes and the bamboo begins to peak out of the ground. Then, in just five weeks the bamboo will grow 90 feet or taller. If we compare bamboo to say, a dandelion or grass which grows in days but will never reach 90 feet, we begin to understand the importance of the process and what it can deliver to us.


Let's go back to the embers for a second, though. As the inferno begins to grow, the embers that are carried in the wind become the most dangerous, because they now spark a new fire that can trap firefighters. The same goes for the slow process. What begins as a slow one faced fire, can become two, three, ten and so on. All of a sudden, that small little ember has created a mass inferno.


If you are patient enough, you will begin to see your embers spread out and expand the wall of your fire. Progress is like a fire because there will be times that our progress is impeded, like firefighters against the flames. Sometimes, a lot of your fire can be doused all together, but as long as you are willing to be patient and trust that one last remaining ember can reignite the fires of progress, you will always be in the fight.


JK Rowling did not sit down one day and say, "okay, I am going to write one of the greatest selling book series of all time and I will be done by tonight." No, she sat down and she wrote one page, and another, and another. Soon, she had her first book. She went to a publisher who turned her away. Then another. And another. 12 publishers said no to one of the all time selling books. She stayed patient. She found another way. That ember struck, more books were to come and 4,224 pages later, JK Rowling gave the world a series of books, movies, theme parks and even a sport. Funny what a little ember (patience) can do.


The most important thing about the ember though, is it knows it's identity. An ember to the naked eye is small. It seems unassuming. However, that ember knows damn well what it is capable of. It knows that because of what it is, it can create an inferno that is so far out of control, we must rely on it to burn itself out because there is nothing an outside source can do about it.


The ember does not care about the final result, whether it becomes a full blown fire or not. That is what patience is- understanding that life is here to be experienced and everything is a process that may take time. The second we begin to worry about the results, we begin to burn ourselves out.


The identity of the ember is what makes it so dangerous, just like our patience can make us so dangerous. A patient person is not fazed by anything that happens to them. Instead of being let down by a setback, they embrace the setback. They understand it is part of the process they must go through to become greater. By enduring that obstacle and ultimately overcoming it, they acquire new skills and a set of tools that will allow them to move forward more freely and ready to overcome the next obstacle. That tool, is now a part of the new identity, making that patient person just that much more capable of setting their own inferno ablaze.


I say all of that to say this, while the pathway is not always clear and it will never be easy, you will always need patience. Keep that ember alive because the success is in the progress not the reward. To become a special anything, you must first become a special individual. Don't ask yourself what you can do to become successful. Ask yourself, "who must I become to be what I want to be?"


If you want to go from an ember to becoming an inferno, let's talk. Right now the world needs more infernos than it does embers and there is never a more perfect time than right now.