"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish" - John Quincy Adams
Back in the summer of 2010, I was training for an ultramarathon. My mileage was progressing nicely, reaching 21 miles on my Sunday morning run. Things were looking good. Until they weren’t.
It started with a nagging tightness above my ankle. The tightness progressed to pain. My leg hurt so much, I had difficulty walking from one gate to another at the airport. It was time to see a doctor.
I was able to get an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine. He looked at the images from the x-ray and MRI and made the diagnosis – a damaged, but not torn, anterior tibial tendon. We had caught the problem before surgery was required.
The doctor and I talked about my goals. Did I want to continue running, or did I want to take up another sport? I explained that not only did I want to keep running, I wanted to keep running marathons. It was part of who I’d become.
The doctor said that with the right treatment and physical therapy, there was no reason I couldn’t meet my goals. But first, I needed to heal. That mean no running for at least 4 weeks, and then very limited running for the 4 weeks after that. He looked me in the eye and restated, “No running for the next 4 weeks.”
It wasn’t easy. For me, or for the people who live and work with me. But I knew that I needed to follow the doctor’s instructions or I wouldn’t accomplish my objectives. The recovery process would take time. A long time.
It was over a year before I toed the starting line again. But since then, I’ve run 5 marathons and 2 ultramarathons. Patience and persistence paid off.
Recently, I attended a training seminar entitled, “Creating a Successful Speaking Business”. The presenter, Steve Shapiro, is a well-recognized leader in the industry, and serves on the Board of Directors of the National Speakers Association. His level of success is the benchmark most of us in the business strive to achieve.
Steve started with a story about when he began his business. He’d been a vice-president at a national consulting firm, had delivered many presentations, and even had a great video in front of a large audience. He met with a publicist to discuss how long it would take to have a successful speaking business with regular bookings. The answer – about 10 years. If he worked diligently.
How long did it take Steve to reach this level? About 10 years. While persistently working towards his goal. Now he’s able to decide which booking offers to accept, and spend most of his time developing new content for his books and his talks.
It looks like I have a few more years, and a lot more effort, before I achieve my aspirations as a professional speaker.
Success is the result of hard work over a long period of time. Often longer than we expect when we begin our journeys. There will be delays, setbacks and unforeseen obstacles. Sometimes, progress will be so slow, it may not feel like we’re moving at all. Our goals may appear to be further from our reach than when we started.
That’s why patience is so important. We need to be accept the realities of the situation and adjust accordingly. We can acknowledge obstacles, but we can’t let them deter us from moving forward. We must stay the course, and continue the path forward. One step at a time.