As I was walking up the hill to collect my daughter from school earlier this week, I got chatting to another Dad.
And despite exchanging no more than a few pleasantries in the two and a bit terms since our kids started big school, the conversation soon turned towards the challenges presented by both modern culture and technology.
Within a few minutes we had agreed that the only reward for being efficient at answering messages, is more messages. Email, text, WhatsApp, Slack and social media. It can seem endless.
Leaving my inbox unattended for a day or so can be anxiety inducing, but it often gives me the opportunity to focus on the important instead of the urgent, or to spend time thinking, instead of always doing.
Over the early May Bank Holiday, I did two things I haven’t done in a while. Got on a plane, and spent four days alone with my wife.
In fairness, there’s been some pretty good reasons for the respective hiatuses.
In no particular order, three lockdowns and two children. Oh, and one moment of realising that I was a fair way up the wrong mountain. So I had to walk back down to the bottom, and find a new one to climb.
Professionally, not literally.
At times the combined efforts of parenting, coping with a pandemic and starting a new business have felt like a huge undertaking. And there’s certainly been moments which I wouldn’t necessarily describe as much fun.
In fact, if I were to draw a Venn diagram describing the skills required for these endeavours, it would have two things at the centre. Effort and patience. In equal measure.
Oh, go on then.
The modern world can feel fast and overwhelming at times, and we have become very used to instant gratification. Jeff has primed us into a state where there’s barely any space between wanting and having.
And the result is that often, we’ve lost the ability to be patient. Back in September last year, I wrote a blog post about The Jetsons.
“Mr Jetson works for Spacely Sprockets. For three hours a day, three days a week. Sounds good, right? Technology, of course, had freed him from the drudgery of work, certainly when compared to his Blue Collar counterpart, Fred Flintstone”
But if we’re honest, technology hasn’t really had that effect. Most of the time, it’s the other way around.
“Life accelerates, and everyone grows more impatient. It’s somehow vastly more aggravating to wait two minutes for the microwave than two hours for the oven. Or ten seconds for a slow-loading web page versus three days to receive the same information by post”
Oliver Burkeman; Four Thousand Weeks
But actually, as Heinz was busy telling us back in the 1980s, sometimes the best things come to those who wait.
Other advocates of this ethos are Heinz’s biggest shareholders, Warren & Charlie.
“You know, people always ask me, how do I get to be rich like you, except quicker? I don’t want to be an old rich guy. I want to be a young rich guy.”
But as Charlie & Warren will tell you, their method doesn’t work like that. The thing that has made them both startlingly wealthy is compounding. Picking the right investments, and then doing nothing much.
You can’t make it go any faster, but it has worked. Warren has been investing for eighty years. 99% of his wealth was accumulated after his 50th birthday, and 97% came after his 65th birthday.
Twelve months ago I was introduced to a client who owns a wonderful Grade II listed house in Belgravia.
An agent had been discreetly offering it for sale, but much of the feedback from potential buyers had focused around the existing layout. For some, obtaining permission to make alterations felt both confusing and complicated.
So I came up with an idea which I thought would minimise the uncertainty. That way an incoming purchaser could focus on the incredible potential. But implementing my strategy was going to take time.
Advocating a slow approach definitely felt like the right advice. But also a personal risk. Especially when these days, everyone else is promising instant results.
But thankfully, my client had faith and bought into the vision. And twelve months down the line, we’re almost ready to start the marketing process.
It's been a real learning curve. And an insight into what makes a good architect, filmmaker or graphic designer. Usually 10,000 hours of practice. Often more.
And being someone who’s not that good at waiting, I’ve had to learn that work I can really be proud of, often takes time.
To help, I’ve been keeping Naval’s advice front and centre;
“Impatience with actions, patience with results”
We’re nearly there…
Things I’ve been inspired by this week
“Float like a Butterfly, sting like a Bee, rumble young man rumble”
Ken Burn’s Muhammad Ali documentary series has it all. You can catch it on the BBC iPlayer.