Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Ken ColemanBy Ken Coleman4 Minutes

My first experience in organized sports was playing soccer as a 7-year-old boy. I loved it, but I was small for my age. I was easily the smallest kid on the field, and I didn’t get a lot of playing time. The coach wasn’t mean or unfair about things. I think he was just afraid I’d get hurt if the ball ever hit me. But it ripped my heart out to sit on the bench every game. I knew I could play if given the chance, and I truly believed in my heart I should be playing more.

I’ll never forget riding home after one game and sitting dejectedly in the back seat of the car. When my dad asked me what was wrong, I burst into tears and sobbed, “I just want to play!”

I don’t remember what dad said next, or much of anything else about the ride home. But I do recall at one point he looked at me in the rearview mirror and said, “You know what? You’re going to get bigger, you’re going to get faster and you’re going to get better. Stay with it, son. Your time will come.”

He was right. I got more playing time during the next season. Two years later, I led the league in scoring and was selected for the All-Star team. Those encouraging words from my dad stayed with me, and they helped me stay with it. They sustained me.

When it comes to your job, some of you may feel just like a little kid who only wants to get in the game. Instead of playing, you feel like you’re sitting on the sidelines, even though you know you could do it if you just had the chance. But there’s often purpose in waiting. It might not be fun—and it definitely humbles you—but waiting often grows and refines you in ways nothing else can. It also allows you the opportunity to mature and learn more.

You may have heard me talk about the seven stages of finding your dream job: Get Clear, Get Qualified, Get Connected, Get Started, Get Promoted, Get Your Dream Job, and Give Yourself Away. Each one takes patience, perseverance, and plenty of time watching other people become (what seems like) overnight successes, while you continue to slowly inch forward. Other people will get opportunities you feel should’ve gone to you. They’ll get noticed for their hard work when you feel you’ve worked twice as hard. You might have to accept or stay in jobs for a while that don’t take full advantage of your skills.

Do them anyway.

When I was stuck in my job and started over by working toward my dream of being a broadcaster, there was no way for it to happen quickly or easily. I went to broadcast school with 20-year-olds while I was in my mid-30s. I recorded my first podcast in a 5-foot-by-5-foot sound booth with no air conditioning.

I spent years finding the right people and the right places, and I built relationships from the ground up. And you know what? Everything I endured was worth it to get where I am today. Be patient. My guess is it’ll be worth it for you, too!