The heading of this article is an excerpt from a famous quote by Warren Buffet, the well-known billionaire investor and philanthropist.
“No matter how great the talents or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”
The world is moving at a faster pace than ever before, everything is exploding at a pace which is harder to keep up with. Technology has taken big leaps with every passing year. Until recently I used to have a mobile with 32 GB storage space, and it was considered to be good enough capacity to store everything you want, but now we are talking about 500 GB capacity as a norm. I still remember the beep from the 56kb modem connected to my desktop during early years of internet, and now we cant live without a minimum of 100 MBPS speed to browse. World GDP has tripled in the last fifteen years. World population has crossed 7 Bn mark. Big mac price has touched 5.5$. So it is expected of us to feel the need to grow and progress at a faster pace in life.
People we grew up with whom we feel are not as hard working as us may have become rich and powerful. Our colleagues whom we feel are less talented than us may have secured two promotions in the last three years. Our siblings who are much younger than us may have become successful entreprenurs. So why are we not making huge progress? Why are we not taking leaps and bounds? It is very reasonable in this era of fast progress for us to expect to catch up with the rest of the world and to feel a bit frustrated at the pace of progress we are making.
But what is progress? Is it a measure of who you used to be a few years back vs. who you are today? Is it an improvement on your net worth a few years back vs. your net worth today? Or is it a comparison of you vs. someone else and their progress over the years vs. yours? If it’s the latter then it’s difficult to keep the morale high as you will always be unhappy, because there is no dearth of people out there whom you can benchmark yourself with. They may have enjoyed tremendous growth and that too at a faster pace compared to many people out there.
In 2000 Jack Ma probably had the same net worth as me, and probably I would have got rejected from less job applications than him, but today he is worth is $37Bn and he is one of the most celebrated CEO’s, and I haven’t even made a Mn $ or reached anywhere near a C-suite. In 1994 Donald Trump was a Billionaire when Jeff Bezos was about to start Amazon. I dont have to explain who they are today, Donald Trump is the president of the most powerful country in the world with a net worth of $3 Bn, and Jeff Bezos is the CEO of one of the most valuable companies in the world with a net worth of $113 Bn. Can you say one of them is a failure? Or can you say who is more successful?. In the same year I was an average 14-year old student and Mark Zucherberg probably was considered an average 10 year old, today he is out to conquer the world with his Facebook Inc. and Libra and has a net worth of $68 Bn.
If you look for people to compare yourself with, you will find millions of people who has done better than you over the years, I have mentioned the people above because they are well known, but I know thousands of people whom are not known to many who have lived around me and has done better than me over the years. But what we all conveniently forget is the fact that there are also billions of people around the world who has done worse than us. So, if you look from that perspective you may have done exceptionally well. So comparison can be very misleading, and the results can make you a success or a failure depending on whom you compare yourself with. But the best way to measure progress is by comparing yourself with whom you were yesterday. Are you a better person than who you were in the past? Are you making progress in all aspects of your life compared to the past? If you are; then you are progressing.
Everyone runs on their own clock
Elvis Presley an Americal icon, and the most celebrated one from his era known as the king of rock and roll achieved more fame in a shorter time than many other celebrities in the world, and his fame outlasts more than others as well. Presley became a sensation in his 20’s, but he had only 42 years in this world, compared to an average human lifespan of 79 years. Someone who shares similar popularity but from different sphere of life, and whose images are still seen all over the world through the succesful business he left behind is Colonel Sanders of KFC. When Elvis left the world at 42 years of age, Colonel Sanders at that age was starting his business selling “home meal replacement”, which he called, “Sunday Dinner, Seven Days a Week.” He died at 90 years of age.
The Beatles were international stars by early 1964, four years from their formation, leading the United States pop market and breaking numerous sales records. John Lennon was 24 then. The group touched heights that probably no other group has, they were active for about 10 years before fading out as a group. Rolling stones is another group who were at the forefront of the British Invasion of bands that became popular in the United States at the same time as Beatles, they still are a group and are performing together.
Samuel L. Jackson was in his 40s when he became an A-list movie star. Ang Lee was a stay-at-home dad before becoming one of the most important directors in the world at 41. J.K. Rowling was 32 and had a round of rejections before “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was published.
Everyone runs on their own time, some make it early in life where as other late. Some live a longer life, some short. Some may be termed successful because of their celebrity status and wealth but feel miserable inside, whereas others who seems miserable from outside may feel fulfilled from inside. You have your own clock as well, which may be completely different from people you know. And your measuring bowl of progress and success may also be different from them.
What’s important is to keep moving
” If you can’t fly then run, If you can’t run then walk, If you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Keep moving forward, keep making progress one step a time, do not lose enthusiasm in the comparison game. As Winston Churchill puts it “Success is all about walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm”. Stop comparing yourself with others, compete with self, make progress in all aspects of your life not only net worth.
So whenever you feel that the universe is not being fair with you, that people who are less talented than you are making more progress, or that people who are not putting as much effort as you are and still are touching new heights, then remember Warren Buffet’s words “No matter how great the talents or efforts, some things just take time.”
Image credit: lukkiencc.nl