This morning, as I was reading in (of all things) Sports Illustrated, I came on an excerpt from Bruce Springsteen’s biography, Born to Run and Peter King’s commentary:
“He’s 20 years old, everybody at the Jersey Shore loves him, but he’s unknown nationally, and a good friend and adviser tells him, ‘If you really want to be great, you’ve got to get off the Jersey Shore.’ And so they pile everything in a couple vehicles and head west to this sort of open mike night in San Francisco.
“As Springsteen wrote, the band was part of a four-band showcase; one band would get the chance to move on and perhaps get a recording contract. The Jersey guys went third and thought they killed it. The fourth band, though not as energetic, was very good. Via “Born To Run:”
“They got the gig. We lost out. After the word came down, all the other guys were complaining we’d gotten ripped off. The guy running the joint didn’t know what he was doing, blah, blah, blah.”
“That night, Springsteen reflected, sleeping on a couch in his transplanted parents’ home in the Bay Area. “My confidence was mildly shaken, and I had to make room for a rather unpleasant thought. We were not going to be the big dogs we were back in our little hometown. We were going to be one of the many very competent, very creative musical groups fighting over a very small bone. Reality check. I was good, very good, but maybe not quite as good or exceptional as I’d gotten used to people telling me, or as I thought … I was fast, but like the old gunslingers knew, there’s always somebody faster, and if you can do it better than me, you earn my respect and admiration, and you inspire me to work harder. I was not a natural genius. I would have to use every ounce of what was in me—my cunning, my musical skills, my showmanship, my intellect, my heart, my willingness—night after night, to push myself harder, to work with more intensity than the next guy just to survive untended in the world I lived in.”
Here’s what struck me, and it is something I have seen in my own clients and in my own life: Yeah, you have to take the first step, but without the long hike, the persistence, we’re never going to get “there”, wherever “there” is.
Most every client, whether it’s an individual or a company, has all the smarts, talent, ability, quality products or services to make it. I’ve never taken a single client on that I did not believe had what it takes.
Some made it “there”, some didn’t.
The difference? Some were willing to be persistent, to give it time, and to work diligently, day in and day out towards their goals. They accepted the fact that they were not going to turn around their life or their company or their marketing with some quick fix miracle cure.
Some gave up after a month or few when they had made progress, but hadn’t reached the promise land yet. Some gave up after a start and stop and start again approach. One or two gave up just as they were about to make a breakthrough.
“Night after night…”
That’s the line in Springsteen’s excerpt that jumps out at me. Night after night. Day after day. Doing the work. Claiming and living our best. Finding a process that works and sticking with it. Persistent consistency. That’s what works.
We live in an instant world. We expect results fast. Ads promise a complete turnaround in short order, tomorrow or at least the next day. See enough of those ads and hype and we start to believe it.
Only it’s not true.
A turnaround takes time. It takes work. It takes unlearning and relearning. It takes changing the inertia of life or work or business or whatever it is you want to change. Give it that time. Do that work, day after day, and what you want, whatever that is, happens.
I have seen this in startup businesses or businesses that wanted to break out the middle of the pack. I have seen it in individuals, artists, executives, managers and more. That principle seems to work no matter what it is you want to accomplish.
My experience, both in the companies I was a part of and with my clients, is that it takes between a year and eighteen months of consistent work.
That is not to say that there is no progress before then. There is. But to get “there”, to whatever “there” you want to get, a year to eighteen months seems to be how long it takes. So I often ask my potential clients – can you give it that long in exchange for what you want to accomplish, to reach your dream, to change your life and business?
Some are. Some aren’t.
Which are you?