When we’re young we don’t have much of a sample size of life to take from. We don’t realize how things build up over time and compound, sometimes exponentially.

For example:

Let’s say you start a lawn mowing business during the summers in your teens. Your first summer, you’ll have, say, 5 clients. If you stick with it for 3 summers, you may have up to 50 clients.

If you stick with it, eventually your efforts will become more effective. You’ve gotten better at your marketing tactics, sales skills, and production management by repetition, and your neighborhoods are used to you. You’ve carved out your spot in the market by sticking with it over time. People expect you to be there, they talk about you, and they spread the word about you. Your customers talk to their friends and you get more referrals. You’ve built a reputation by providing value consistently over time.

If you continue on this path for 10 years it’s not crazy to say you could own a million dollar business. You simply will have had enough experience to practice, practice, practice, and vontinue developing your skills along with your business.

Now, imagine that after mowing lawns for 2 years, you decide to quit and pursue something else. It’s starting to get boring, the work isn’t that fun anymore, it’s repetitive, and you feel like you’d learn more doing something else.

So, you start a t-shirt printing company. You’ve always been interested in it, and some friends have been asking about t-shirts so you decided to go ahead and fill the need.

It’s new, it’s exciting, and your knowledge and customer base from your lawn company give you a headstart. After 3 months, you decide to slowly close out your lawn company and transition to the t-shirt printing company full time. You slim down your clients and sell your equipment.

Now, it is possible to start up a new company while maintaining your old company. Instead of selling it and dismantling it, you could find the right people to delegate and automate it. However, the process of automation takes about the same amount of energy and time as starting up an entirely new business from scratch, especially in an industry like lawn care. You have to systematize everything, find people who are willing to stay and treat it with the care and passion of an owner.

So your t-shirt company does well, and you grow it to be even bigger than your first company. Eventually, you get bored. You want to try something else again. Big surprise!

Extrapolate this pattern of starting a new venture every 2 years. Imagine yourself 10 years down the road. You end up with 10 years of experience in several different industries, but the only thing you have to show for it is a 2-year-old company, the size of… well, a 2-year-old company.

I’m not advocating either path. I’m pointing out that wisdom and the importance of patience can be gleaned easily from experiencing more. We are often impatient. We want to be successful NOW, and while most of us know the importance of being patient, we have trouble realizing it before experiencing it first hand.

This principle is depicted well in The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.

You start to see the effects of this principle in the first two to three years of working on something.

If you’re old enough to have sunk your teeth into multiple projects for a few years each, you see the effect that time has on your effort each year. Your effort compounds.

If you’ve worked on the same thing for 6+ years, you also know how the compound effect works.

Often times, a 16 year old who has done nothing but go to public school for her entire life won’t have this scope.

And without this scope of view, building a career intentionally will be difficult.

When you experientially understand the relationship between time and substantial success, it is much easier to make deliberate decisions and create opportunities for yourself. You choose based on the vision of something greater, and it’s easier to pass up distractions in the moment.

Once you understand how experiences build off each other and plan your life with that in mind, the sense of urgency and impatience that leads to bad decisions or lengthened development disappears.