Patience, Persistence and Perspiration
Fridge Philosophy - Napoleon Hill
Note: Since 2018, I have placed these short quotes on our refrigerator at home to provide subtle hints for successful, thoughtful, and purposeful practices in hopes my teens would internalize them. Along the way, I found them helpful in my own life.
Napoleon Hill was a self-help writer in the 1930s who gained insights to “secrets” of success by interviewing Dale Carnegie, Henry Ford and other entrepreneurs.
This quote is pretty straightforward isn’t it? Basically, work hard, keep working hard and don’t look for shortcuts, and you’ll likely succeed. Of course, straightforward doesn’t always translate into easy. Or does it?
Well, I’d argue, you had better have a good definition of success. You may be the best bricklayer in the world, but if you build a wall North to South and you were asked to build one East to West, then I’d say you failed. So, unless you have a goal and you have defined success in relation to that goal, then it is just wasted effort.
All right, smart guy, I know my goal. I have a North Star for where I want to be and I want to move toward accomplishing that goal. OK, then let’s break down Mr. Hill’s quote:
Delayed Gratification: Face it, any goal that takes a moment to accomplish is not too much of a goal. Yes, exercising for an hour today is a great goal for today, but only if it’s in service of something greater like living healthy. Selling so many widgets this week is good, but in service to increasing production for the year or in the top 10 percent of sales for the entire company is better. The point is the goal is going to be a stretch. It’s going to be painful. It’s going to make you want to quit. But have PATIENCE my friend. You will get there and you will be more fulfilled because of it.
Being Consistent: My favorite idiom (no, really it is): How do you eat an elephant - one bite at a time. PERSISTENCE is the key to it all. Doing something day-after-day, week-after-week, sometimes year-after-year, will get you to places you never realized existed. And here’s a secret - sometimes that gratification comes from the process of doing the thing consistently. You may have started exercising because you wanted to lose weight. But after months of going consistently, the gratification comes from how you feel after a good workout, maybe not having to take a medication, or just feeling better all around and less about how you look in the mirror (though that can be an added benefit).
Doing the work: Sorry to say, there are no shortcuts. There may be some hacks that you see on Instagram (and I admit, I look at some reels and am sure I’m doing everything all wrong), but those hacks are often exceptions and not the rule. Working hard toward the goal, and doing it consistently, is most likely going to put us a trajectory toward the goal. No one is going to do it but us, so we might as well just buckle up and enjoy it.
Truth Disclaimer: I don’t have it all figured out. I’ve stated my large goal is to have my writing be self-sustaining and to generate enough revenue to cover the expenses it takes to publish my novels and stories.
The goal wasn’t always a self-sustaining book publishing side hustle. As with nearly all authors when they type that first word on their first manuscript, I wanted to be traditionally published. But after several rejections, I investigated independent self publishing and revised my goal. Does that reflect impatience? Is it a shortcut? Or does it acknowledge a reality in publishing that the industry is more than bringing a good story to print? The line is fine and each day I answer those questions differently.
But I’d also argue that the indie route demands as much patience, persistence and perspiration. It’s all on me. Nobody is driving me to edit, to market, to find ways to get the word out. I don’t have resources of a publisher to point me in the right directions. I’m learning on my own and experimenting on different approaches. My service to my goal is telling me to produce a weekly newsletter, edit a manuscript for publish next Spring, work on a new novel, and come up with new stories once a month. Meanwhile, I’m trying to break the code for selling books online, generate more free subscriptions, and yes, there’s that other job that pays the bills.
Along the way, I fell in love with the process. I love finding what impactful quote I’m going to share and then diving deeper. I love the idea of creating new intersecting stories that connect seemingly separate novels. I love learning from other authors about their success and finding if I can replicate it. The goal wasn’t to be a great bricklayer. It was to build a castle I love.
What about you? How have you pulled your Patience, Persistence and Perspiration together to accomplish a goal?
Side of Mustard
Watergate Deep Dive: There is a moment in the film “All the President’s Men,” when Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) is obtaining background from Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook) about Watergate. Deep Throat says, “Forget the myths the media's created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand.” That was the feeling I got after watching the Starz limited series “Gaslit” and the Max limited series “White House Plumbers.”
Both covered different aspects of the Watergate break-ins with Gaslit focusing on Martha Mitchell (Julia Roberts) and what she saw behind the scenes as her husband, Attorney General John Mitchell (Sean Penn) tried to secure reelection for Nixon. Meanwhile, WHP looks at the break-ins themselves and the bungled operation of Howard Hunt (Woody Harrelson) and Gordon Litty (Justin Thoreaux). Both were entertaining, though WHP comes off more as a farce as we shake our heads at the incompetence of Litty and Hunt. Gaslit focuses more on the shifting norms of women as Martha transitioned from party hostess to independence and realizing her power.
I was only 12 days old when Nixon resigned, so this was an educational deep dive for me. I pulled up IMDB on my phone so I could cross reference the cast and characters. I even went back and watched All The President’s Men to complete the story. It’s been 50 years since the break-ins and its relevance is never more true (beyond adding -gate to every scandal). It’s a good reminder that fanaticism brings bargaining on your values, which leads to corruption.
Blockbuster letdown? The narrative in June was the disappointment of a flurry of big budget movies such as the Flash, Fast X, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Elemental and more. CNBC reported that while the box office was 20% better than last year (and the close of the pandemic), it’s far below pre-pandemic levels of 2019 (what was the big movie that year? Avengers: Endgame). Some of the reasons is comic book/sequel fatigue and lack of original stories and the fact that there are less films in the marketplace. From my own experience, I think about Air, the movie about the creation of the Nike Air Jordan shoes. Five years ago, that’s a movie I’m seeing in the theater. Now, even though it’s a theatrical release, I know it’s streaming in a couple of months. I can wait. Streaming and TV technology has finally met its potential and the value proposition is now whether or not I want to be overwhelmed by the screen, or just wait to watch. We are in the process of major tumult in the entertainment industry. The business model has been upended. No more DVD sales. Streaming models are inconsistent. Younger consumers find more entertainment on TikTok on their phones than in the theater. How does the industry respond? That’s part of the reason for the Writers Strike and the new Actors Strike. The uncertainty of visual entertainment is about as high as when the first silent film was shown and backers wondered if people would come to a theater to watch.