This I Know: Patience

American asks four wonks to weigh in on a single topic

Photo­graphy by
Traci Daberko

rocket ship, apple, giant fish, and a golden egg timer

Rachel Koretsky, Kogod/BA ’14

We know what entrepreneurs need to do to be successful: network, fundraise, gather feedback, iterate, and grow exponentially. But we often forget the value of patience. 

It takes time to build a startup, from developing a product to building a team. Patience is crucial as entrepreneurs evaluate their progress and make thoughtful decisions. Often, patience is mistaken for being slow to act—especially during the most stressful stages of the app development process—but it’s important to understand that success does not happen overnight. Entrepreneurs need to be patient as they grow, make mistakes, and navigate daily challenges.

Having patience has allowed me to become a better leader and build stronger relationships with my team and customers. As entrepreneurs, we want to rapidly grow the next unicorn, but we must remind ourselves that it is OK to slow down and take a deep breath. All good things take time. 

Koretsky is the founder of Upace, a recreation and fitness platform, and coorganizer of DC 
Startup Week.

Claire Sinclair, CAS/BA ’92

In my 21 years of teaching, I have learned to be assertive, engaging, confident, and flexible; but, most importantly, I have learned to be patient. Teachers are not in it for the money, but the happiness I get from being with five-year-olds on a daily basis makes my heart full.

The moment my kindergarteners walk through my door, I am greeted with 24 hugs and smiles. I try to give each of my students the time they need to share what is on their mind, because what might seem trivial to an adult could mean the world to a child. Light-up sneakers, Velcro, why they didn’t see their shadow on their way to school, why I am wearing lip gloss—these things are significant to a five-year-old. 

When I can stay in the moment and give them my full attention—all while still trying to teach the curriculum—I know that I am making my students feel as if they are the most important thing in the world.  

Sinclair teaches kindergarten at Tuscan Elementary School in Maplewood, New Jersey.

Nick Zachar, SOC/MFA ’16 

I held tightly onto a kelp stipe with one hand and gripped my 50-pound underwater camera rig with the other. The kelp forests that normally towered above us lay on the ocean floor as a result of a strong current. Our goal for this dive: capture footage of scientists tagging giant sea bass to better understand their movements. The problem was, there were no sea bass to be found. With time running out on our dive, a few of us decided to swim into the current in search of the 500-pound fish. Two divers, one with a GoPro, stayed put. 

We returned to our boat empty-handed—the elusive money shot still 80 feet below us. We took our gear off and went into the galley, where the two divers who stayed reviewed their GoPro footage. I glanced at the computer screen. The frame was filled with three giant sea bass that circled them for minutes. One of the divers looked up at me smugly and whispered, “Patience is a virtue.”

Zachar is a video producer and cinematographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Chris Hill, SOC/MA ’96

My job is to help listeners make sense of what’s happening in the stock market. 

Last December, investors who’d gotten comfortable with a historic bull market became rattled when the value of their portfolios suddenly dropped. Patience became a virtue for which many on Wall Street had little tolerance.

Warren Buffett is 88 years old and has a net worth of more than $80 billion. Here’s the most important thing to know about Buffett: he accumulated 99 percent of his wealth after the age of 50.  

So great is the allure of getting rich quickly that many of us completely miss the surest path to creating wealth—getting rich slowly. It’s just one more reason to get your kids started investing now.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither are fortunes. But for anyone patient enough to invest for decades instead of months, the rewards can be life-changing.

Hill hosts Motley Fool Money, a nationally-syndicated radio show and MarketFoolery, a daily podcast.