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Letter to my daughter: balancing patience and ambition

Patience and ambition sound like conflicting concepts on the surface, but to get ahead in life, you must understand that they are actually complimentary concepts.


Dear daughter,

As you await your ACT test scores with anxiety and dream of the impending promises of college life in just over a year, we still have some time left to cram your brain full of life lessons that we all had to learn the hard way. I know we’ve covered a lot of ground so far, but for your good and the good of your generation, we have more to teach you.

Today, I wanted to tell you about the great grandfather you never knew. I recall as a very young girl, the smallest in my age group, he was a giant. Standing at over six feet tall, he might as well have been on stilts in my mind. He was one of the most gentle people that I ever met, and the funny thing is that he always got his way, dispelling the myth that only aggressive leaders can be powerful.

In grade school, I recall having to create a set of dreidels out of wood for history class, and of course I asked my grandfather for help – he had a workshop. The smell of wood shavings still lingers in my mind from time to time, and I think back with affection at how when I was getting frustrated that I couldn’t drill a hole or sand fast enough, he just gently persisted and asked me to do the same. He had this calming effect on me that I still can’t quite explain.

Although you never met your great grandfather, I ask you to think about who has a calming effect on you right now. Who in your life just seems to always be calm and makes you feel the same way?

When you begin to feel impatient with life, tap into that feeling. But furthermore, and here is what you must really understand – carry that patience with you into your career.

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A major character flaw that comes with youth is impatience. You get hired on, but three months in, you aren’t the CEO yet. But why?

It sounds ridiculous, but you’ll get to a point where you’ll feel like you deserve success, like you’ve worked for it, but perhaps it just hasn’t come yet. And that’s good, because it means you’re ambitious, that you’re a hard worker, and that you’re constantly grooming yourself to be a better asset to your team.

There’s an old joke wherein one guy says, “you have to learn to be patient,” and the other guy says, “learn? I want to be patient NOW!”

But for this scenario, the one where you are a budding professional, Napoleon Hill said it best – “Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”

Your great grandfather was patient, persistent, and boy did he work harder than anyone I’ve ever met. You can do the same, while your coworkers get frustrated that they aren’t yet royalty – keep your nose to the grind, pay your dues, and never let your foot off of the gas pedal – that’s how you balance ambition and patience.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



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