I have the world’s ugliest fireplace. Actually, I had the world’s ugliest fireplace. It was a 10 foot by six foot monstrosity with irregularly shaped bricks that were varying shades of gray and brown. Sounds disgusting, right? It was. After weeks of watching DIY network and HGTV shows and 20 years of living in the house with the ugliest fireplace, I finally decided to paint it this past weekend. I did and I realized that painting bricks has a lot in common with surviving and thriving in business today.
To start the project, I climbed my six foot ladder and meticulously taped off the molding on the ceiling. I tried various brushes and pads. I thought I could use a big, thick brush to quickly prime and paint the brick. No such luck. My brick is full of irregularities and the mortar is all different depths. I told you it was ugly. It was also a pain in the neck.
The only brush that worked was my stenciling brush, a one inch round brush. It worked because this small brush could reach into all the nooks of the brick and reach the mortar, too. There were no sweeping paint strokes for me with this project! I could have gotten angry about this setback, but I stayed calm.
I painted each brick individually. I painted the mortar around each brick after I painted each brick. I primed 357 bricks and the mortar around them. Then I methodically painted all of the bricks with the paint. All 357 of them.
What got me through? This was my toughest paint job. It took two days, but I finished this tedious job because I calmly and patiently worked my way through it. I set goals for each day and how many bricks I would paint. It’s the same patience that works for painting each brick that you need to have in business.
Do you think you are patient? Can you wait to complete tedious tasks and get to the end? Or do you throw in the towel too soon and live with the results? I believe that the successful people in business are the patient ones. They finish tough assignments. They can work when they could be playing on their weekends and at night. Their sense of urgency gets them focused on their work goals and they patiently work their way through their projects. Is that you?
What’s interesting is that there’s research that shows that I’m right. You may have heard about the Mischel experiments at Stanford in the late 60s. Kids were individually placed in a room with a marshmallow and other sweets. The child could either eat one marshmallow right away or, if the child was willing to wait while the researcher stepped out for a few minutes, the reward would be two marshmallows when the researcher returned.
Most kids couldn’t wait. They scarfed up the treats as soon as the researcher left the room. What the researchers later learned was that the kids who could delay gratification, the patient ones, were the ones who were more successful in life.