Recently, a modified version of the saying good things come to those who wait was shared on my facebook timeline several times over a couple of days, with the last part crossed out and replaced so that it read: good things come to those who work their asses off.
It overturns an ancient piece of wisdom by adding a twist of the aggressive modern language of success, but it doesn’t seem to me to offer any benefit save to make almost everyone who reads it feel bad about themselves.
Do I work my ass off? I don’t know. I don’t know what that means. I can say categorically that my ass remains where it has always been so in a literal sense of course, no I do not. But in a figurative sense?
Well, the argument seems to me to be moot from the outset. Whoever modified the quote made the assumption that waiting meant sitting around and doing nothing where in fact it almost certainly meant working towards a goal but not being an aggressive jerk about it.
The reason I think this matters is because while I get the original advice and take some comfort in its suggestion that work done today will generate rewards down the road, I honestly don’t know how to measure the second.
By its implication, if I am honest, I’m probably doomed to never enjoy good things because I know people around me who work a lot harder than I do. It implies that the successful life is without balance and that frenetic activity trumps the exercise of patience.
Yet that was surely never the point of the original expression. If its intention must be made clearer, just what exactly would be wrong with: good things come to those who use their time constructively?
It doesn’t have the same balls as the modified version, but it means the same thing, and if we really need to specify that waiting isn’t the same as sitting around swatting flies then it still does the job.
More importantly, it does away with the confusion which causes me a good deal of anxiety at the thought of it — whether what I am doing really qualifies as hard work or whether this blog post, and indeed this whole blog, should really be categorised as just a waste of time.