Any dedicated author will tell you how hard it is to sit in the same old chair typing away until your ass gets numb, day in and day out. Where’s the feedback that tells you if you’re on the right track? The happiness? The results? The success? The money? You sort of get to the point where you have to get something done just to feel good about yourself.
And all the while everyone else seems to be tweeting, posting and YouTubing their way to instant gratification.
Here’s the thing. Delayed gratification is not the exclusive domain of authors and other creative types who slave away for months, sometimes years without any feedback whatsoever, let alone finding out if they’re winning, losing or even heading in the right direction. Every real entrepreneur, every business owner, every CEO knows that feeling all too well.
The most powerful example I know of the importance of delayed gratification is Apple. As it approaches the $1 trillion market cap figure that Wall Street won’t shut up about, remember that the the road Apple’s been on for the past 20 years began close to bankruptcy and has since been paved with countless pundits, experts and analysts counting the Cupertino company out.
They said Apple lost to Microsoft in PCs. It lost to Android and Samsung in smartphones. It lost to Pandora and Spotify in music. Google got to smart watches, glasses and digital payments first. It was crazy to even get into music in the first place, let alone the dog-eat-dog cellphone market. The iPad was just a giant iPod Touch. And of course it lost its innovation mojo. I can go on and on.
In spite of all that the company stayed true to its goals, its core values, its cult-like culture, its focus on doing just a few things better than anyone on Earth, its control of every aspect of the devices and services it sells, its attention to detail, its passion for the user experience, its flat and organic organizational structure and, of course, its secretiveness.
Day in and day out for years on end Apple marched to its own drum, never mind what the pundits, the experts, the analysts and the media said. And now, here we are, perhaps days away from that elusive $1 trillion valuation. Apple truly is a monument to the relentless pursuit of its own agenda. Its own way of doing things. And delayed gratification.
There is no short-term thinking at Apple. No instant gratification. No declaration of victory or pats on the back until the years and decades have gone by and the jury finally turns in a verdict, if that ever happens at all. Just smart thinking, trust in intuition, dogged tenacity, hard work, attention to detail, focus and discipline and a whole lot of faith.
Granted, it can take a long time to find work that inspires you, but once you think you’ve discovered what you’re looking for, stick with it. And on those lonely days and depressing nights when self-doubt creeps into your consciousness and threatens to overwhelm you, remember Apple. And have faith that your work is worth it and that everything will work out fine.