The saying holds up: Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time

Maria Popova, oh what a delight. After seven years of writing her blog Brain Pickings, she decided to publish a list of lessons learned. These, and the accompanying three she added at year ten, have become guideposts for me as I navigate early adulthood.

Somehow, they seem to ring true again and again, popping up and grounding me as I go through various hurdles in my personal adventure.

Lately, one in particular has been obvious: Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time. Here’s what she says,

This is borrowed from the wise and wonderful Debbie Millman, for it’s hard to better capture something so fundamental yet so impatiently overlooked in our culture of immediacy. The myth of the overnight success is just that — a myth — as well as a reminder that our present definition of success needs serious retuning. As I’ve reflected elsewhere, the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.

I love blogging. I don’t do it for the fans or anything other than the development of myself and to help people (the few regular readers I have) navigate their paths. It’s a necessity for my creative expression, self-discovery, and compulsion to help others. But, that isn’t to say I am uninterested in the lives of people who’ve managed to take their creative interests and merge them into a wildly successful career. So, I’ve been checking out my heroes on Wayback Machine to see where they’ve come from.

And it’s crazy.

They’ve been at it for SO long.

Brené Brown, Seth Godin, Austin Kleon, and Tim Ferris, for example, have each been at it since before 2007. Austin Kleon started his website way back in 2001. He shared his work and paid the bills with a 9-5 as a website designer. And Brené Brown’s website from the early 2000s shows she used to pretty much just be a typical researcher, a very passionate one mind you.

Check out your favorites. I bet their early work is incredibly different.

It’s really cool to see and shows the development that occurs over time.

For me, it’s fuel to keep going and own the complementary cliché that a journey of a million miles begins with a single step.

The lesson, in sum, for me is this: Success often isn’t the rapid success story you see in the movies or imagine takes place with visionaries like Steve Jobs. It’s a long game. It takes patience and perseverance, and it has to be about the process, not the destination. Slowly, like a stream, you work at your craft and you work at your craft – learning and adapting as you go along. Then, eventually, you take a look around and find that the world has been reshaped by your efforts.