Greatness take time
“Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig. I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.”
Deep friendships, parenthood, your reputation… Creation of something great takes time and patience - it is a process that needs to be allowed to develop in its own time in order for the desired outcome to be achieved.
But it’s not idle time. There are necessary inputs to achieve greatness in these domains.
And fig trees are no different.
They require space to spread deep roots. Regular watering, especially when young. Pruning of dead or weak branches during the dormant season.
In a harsh winter, some fig trees survive in their roots, with the above ground tree dying off. New growth emerges above ground in the spring.
The metaphors basically write themselves. But I’ll highlight a few.
The Long View
Much of modern life centers on instant gratification. Progress is often about getting exactly what we want and more quickly than before.
In that context, taking the long view can be a differentiator, whether in your career, investing, parenting, etc.
Perhaps the job across the street pays a bit more or carries more prestige, but your current role offers intangibles and more opportunities for growth. Those can pay dividends longer than any immediate financial difference.
In investing, taking a decades-long view allows you to calmly navigate the euphorias and crashes in the market, while others react irrationally.
And in parenting… let’s just say a long-term view of my job as a father adds a dash of patience and perspective in the midst of tantrums!
What We Choose
Fig trees need rain and sunshine. No, really, I looked it up.
But those aren’t variables we get to control. We work with the cards we’re dealt and can choose how we play them.
As I read my way through the Lord of the Rings trilogy again recently, I was struck by this relevant lesson from Gandalf:
“It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.”
That’s a freeing, clarifying perspective I need to be reminded of.
By The Way
On a recent trip to Washington DC, I was able to spend half an hour with Ben Miller, CEO of Fundrise. If you’re not familiar with Fundrise, here’s a great overview from Fortune last year.
In addition to building a great platform, Ben’s relatively new podcast and his quarterly shareholder letters have been helpful investing education resources for me.
Thanks for reading.