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The Case for Not Busting Your Ass

Weighing patience against forward motion.


by Bassam Tarazi

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Q. I have a lot of energy when I start a project, but then it disappears and I lose my motivation. Where do I find the energy to keep going?

Bassam Tarazi: Two quotes have been getting a lot of attention lately, both attacking the original, “Good things come to those who wait.”

“Good things come to those who...bust their ass.” - Who Knows

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” - Abraham Lincoln

I’m the last guy to argue with the spirit of either of these quotes, but I’m here to defend the context buried under the word “wait.”

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For creators of any age, success is never just about solving problems. It’s about finding the right problems to solve. But even when she’s found the right problems to solve, a creator has to allow the right solutions to present themselves. And those creative solutions often flourish in a broth of thoughtful patience.

The patience you need, this “waiting,” is not about hand sitting and dust collecting. It’s about resiliency. It’s about pondering, marinating and having an opinion that took you more than 10 seconds to think up.

Some of the most prolific ass-busters the world has ever seen knew the power of patience, of looking at a problem differently, of enjoying walks, of napping, of taking breaks. Because it is in the released tension of disconnection that a solution often becomes dislodged.

Just ask Einstein. After ten years of analyzing and incessantly thinking about the problem of general relativity, he chose to give up one evening and went to bed early. When he woke up, the solution had presented itself.

When we read stuff like, “Fortune comes to the doer, the one who treads her own path, the one who doesn’t ask for permission,” we imagine that this ass-busting and hustling is solely about embodying your inner Tasmanian Devil, flailing about like a task-completing lunatic.

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But busting your ass has to be a combination of being impatient enough to do the work now, but patient enough to let greatness sprout where you weren’t originally looking.
It’s a Goldilocks zone.

Too much impatience will turn any doer into just a busy bee.

But too much patience will turn any creator into just a dreamer.

The question becomes, can you bust your ass long enough to separate yourself from doubt and laziness, while also having the wherewithal to keep from burning out before you get where you’re going?

Bassam Tarazi is a personal coach and founder of Colipera (Collective Inspiration, Personal Accountability). Author of The Accountability Effect, he runs goal-setting workshops for companies and universities, as well as the international workshop and adventure: The Ignition Lab.

Photo Credit: Tetra/Corbis