I grew up as the middle child in a family of five children.
We celebrated Christmas, which involves — as you know — tightly wrapped presents tucked under a tree.
In those days, you started dreaming about your presents in August when the Sears, Roebuck catalog landed in your mailbox.
You’d flip through the pages that were brimming with products and think about what it would be like to possess the Deluxe Hand Loom (make beautiful potholders!), the Alaskan Wooden Toboggan, or the Young Artist Studio Toolkit.
Christmas Eve was a test of my patience. That was the night we had our big Christmas dinner, followed by The Opening of the Gifts.
Off in the corner, the Christmas tree glowed, and the shiny paper and bows beckoned.
But you had to eat your dinner at the table first. And that’s where I began to learn the art of patience.
It’s a skill I still use today.
Christmas Eve dinner wasn’t like any other dinner. It was a smorgasbord of dishes that were reserved exclusively for that night. And each one had to be served up to seven (or more) people, admired, and eaten. Plates were then collected so you could prepare for the next round.
Looking back, I feel fortunate we always had food on the table and a warm home where we could celebrate.
But at that age? All I wanted was to get to those gifts under the tree.
Earlier in the day, when no one was watching, I had checked out the boxes that were labeled with my name. I’d given them a shake to try to figure out what they contained.
I couldn’t wait to unwrap the surprises inside.
Cruel and unusual punishment
My parents — each in their own ways — knew how to create humor in our lives.
And every year around the Christmas Eve table, as all five kids eyed the gifts under the tree, they’d pull the same joke.
Dessert would be served. In our case, everyone had a slice of Julekake — a Norwegian Christmas cake — in front of them.
Then the coffee would be served. The only people who drank coffee were the adults at the table.
This is when the fun would start.
Not for the kids though! This is when the adults at the table would have their fun.
Now that I’m an adult, and I know how much work goes into putting together a family holiday celebration, it must have been delicious to watch all the kids squirm.
Here’s what the joke sounded like:
“Oh my, this coffee is scalding hot! We’re going to have to drink it verrry slowly.”
“Yes, it’s really great coffee. I just wish it wasn’t so hot!”
“Well, that’s OK. We can take our time. Let’s savor every drop of this coffee. It’s so good.”
All of us kids would look at the adults with withering glances. Not funny. Not funny at all!
This past year, I’ve had the privilege to work and interact with many of our customers through our Authority advanced content marketing training program.
In our new Authority Business Coaching sessions, Sonia Simone and I have taken a close look at one member’s business in a monthly webinar we broadcast to all Authority members.
The people who’ve sat in our “friendly hot seat” and received help from us have come from entirely unrelated fields. We’ve helped:
- A web developer
- The owner of a home cleaning business
- A life coach for women
- A fly fishing lodge owner
What could any of these businesses possibly have in common?
Every one of these business owners has a vision for where they want to take their businesses. And none of them are there yet.
Their business goals sit like unopened gifts under a tree. And they are still at the table, watching while the hot coffee cools down.
They have to wait. And hope.
And work hard.
Learning patience in the business world
The business world is a great teacher of patience. And delayed gratification is just how things work.
I like to think that this process continues to build character well into adulthood.
Patience while waiting for the future to unfold is a skill that’s helpful in all areas of our lives.
There’s no “easy” button, and nothing is automatic. Sure bets don’t exist.
Patience, hard work, and delayed gratification — as unglamorous as they sound — are the three ingredients you need to succeed.
Back on Monday
It’s Christmas Eve once again, and here at Copyblogger, we’re taking a break tomorrow.
We’ll be back next week with new content for you.
We’ll continue to serve up the truth about what it really takes to succeed in business.
And we’ll bring you the best information about using content marketing — a technique that requires great patience — to build your business.
Thanks for your time, your attention, your patience, and your persistence.