When I was in grade school, I remember doing a science project about the cycle of water. How it would rain and then the rain would saturate the ground and the moisture in the ground would become the dew and that humidity would rise and that water would go right back up to the clouds and fall down again on one continuous cycle; the same water over and over with possible, minute variations but largely just an eternal cycle.
As I age, I find a similar pattern with people with whom I work, live, and interact. For example perhaps I was just a young employee when a certain policy was adapted. As time has passed, the usefulness of that policy waned with changing times and the staff of today might see the whole notion as outdated and unnecessary. So let’s say that policy now gets changed, modified or eliminated. Time passes and suddenly the need for that policy or its most recent iteration arises. It is very possible the thing that was eliminated becomes clearly needed again and until the severity of the circumstance was present, the reason for the policy in the first place was not clear. Much like the water example, the water is drawn from the dew and returns to the clouds and creates the rain; the cycle is once again complete. The policy is dragged out of mothballs and suddenly makes all kinds of sense. The fact is it always did, there was just an inability to see the worthiness of the idea without the situation demanding its resolve.
A common topic today is the role of the “Millennial” and how we must prepare for the new and sudden impact. Back in the 1980s when I was first breaking into the business world, my peers and I were known as “Yuppies.” Supposedly then--us “Young Urban Professionals” were ruthless and without conscience. We were likely to undermine our supervisors and replace them for half the annual cost, leaving those who trained us in the unemployment line with their ancient and outdated skill sets.
It was almost if existing staff had to fear the yuppie; yet as ineffectively as that premise played out, we clearly have learned little about the empty threats and today we are told to fear the Millennial. They don't have the same morals, they don't have the same dedication and aren’t devoted to anything; no allegiance. These kids watched their parents toil and put in overtime to try to pay for their house but they never quite got it paid off and probably because they got laid off after decades of dedicated work. So these “new kids on the block” won’t buy houses, they won’t have families, they won’t do anything that resembles permanence.
They want to be able to pick up at a moment’s notice without responsibilities and move on; very similar to the modus operandi of the former Yuppie, no? It doesn’t appear like things have changed that much. And here’s the punchline as I remember it. When my yuppie cohorts and I got married, got a mortgage and especially when we got a kid we weren’t such a threat to anyone anymore. You know why? Our necks were in the same noose as every other working person. Sure, any new stallion that comes flying out of the gate looks threatening at first because he has nothing to lose. Let life experiences start to add up and we all become very similar. It isn’t the era it’s merely what maturity drives.
But I grant you there was a feeling of invincibility when I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s. We watched a man walk on the moon, we watched a rebel doctor put a plastic pump in a man's body where a heart should be and he lived ... well! We saw a president resign and get shamed out of office. Indeed, it was a time of change and when you grow up witnessing that it doesn’t seem so hard to mount a challenge to what was once a very solid and immobile force.
But look at our kids today. They’ve grown up with 23-year-old CEO’s of booming and thriving companies. They can launch an entire website that resembles a television network right from the couch with their iPad in one hand and a fistful of microwave popcorn in the other. Talk about optimistic power? So granted – the tools are there.
The question becomes; “what will they do with those tools, those gifts?” And therein lies the rub; the ones that will truly get ahead are the ones who have also accomplished the application of patience. And it is indeed the virtue it has always been made out to be.
Because my years of observation have given me this clear message; the real and true accomplishments in life require your patience while you wait for them to fully arrive. The aggressive go-getter that is running all over the workplace trying to demonstrate his usefulness, the always willing underling that doesn’t mind being sent to Kalamazoo on a moment’s notice to check on that difficult account, the guy trying so hard to get ahead blows his chances by being too anxious. He draws his guns before they are loaded with the necessary experience.
In my impetuous youth, I was anxious for job advancement, for a decent savings account, for my own home, for a new car, for credibility and you know what? None of those came in the time frame I wanted or was praying for but eventually they all came. It’s why I have come to learn the pleasure of the ride. The gift of patience makes all of the payoffs much sweeter. It also more closely resembles the natural progression of the slow steady cycles of which I speak so fondly.
Ron Ciancutti has worked in the parks and recreation industry since he was 16 years old, covering everything from maintenance, operations, engineering, surveying, park management, design, planning, recreation, and finance. He holds a BS in Business from Bowling Green State University and an MBA from Baldwin Wallace University and has held his current position as Director of Procurement since 1990.