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Just five minutes … and 30 years

Originally posted November 20, 2017.

A story is often told of a woman who came up to Pablo Picasso and asked him to draw a sketch.

He sketched it and gave it back to her saying, “That will cost you $10,000.”

“But you took just five minutes to do the sketch,” she said.

“The sketch may have taken me five minutes, but the learning took me 30 years,” Picasso retorted.

Sometimes we may be tempted to see the success of someone else and think it looks easy. We may think they happened to be successful in a short period of time without seeing the commitment they had to reach that point.

When I started my staffing business, I was amazed at how many people don’t stick with a job.

Some of the jobs were short-term, but most were long-term with good companies that offered a great opportunity for advancement.

Several people would quit for minor reasons and then call a few weeks or months later asking for work again. Usually they would be desperate for work and say that they were broke.

I would often think to myself: “You would have work now, and you probably would have had a raise if you had just stuck with it.”

Sometimes they would quit for good reasons, such as to take care of a sick family member or because they didn’t have child care.

But others times they quit because they thought the job was hard, they didn’t like someone else telling them what to do, or they couldn’t manage to get to work on time regularly.

I was often frustrated with the lack of commitment.

But I realized that the lack of commitment wasn’t limited to just entry-level positions. In fact, it’s often the biggest impediment to doing any job well. It can also be one of the biggest problems to our relationships, including marriage.

With my business, I found that it was hard to constantly try to recruit people, and that I had to talk to a lot of people on the phone and in person in order to find a few good employees. And talking on the phone all the time is exhausting work.

I also found that it was hard work to find new clients. It involved picking up the phone, getting out of my comfort zone, and getting rejected a lot.

Sure, there were plenty of success stories to make up for the times of rejection. But most of the workday was actually rather mundane.

The best way to move my business forward was to keep plugging away and avoid cutting corners.

And that’s the best way for you to be successful with any position: keep doing it even when it’s hard or boring.

The best way to be successful in the warehouse? Keep picking up boxes.

The best way to be successful as a salesperson? Keep making sales calls.

The best way to be successful as a teacher? Keep teaching.

The best way to fail at any of these positions? Give up.

This is not to say that you should never seek a promotion, change a job, or even change a career. But just don’t expect a get-rich-quick scheme.

And be aware that being successful at your job will probably take more work than you expect.

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