Charles Dickens and Active Patience
2023-08-10

Active Patience is the idea that while you're waiting, you should be preparing.

It's the reason I decided to go back to school. After my wife's lung transplant, I suddenly had a lot more time on my hands. Work was going well, and I loved what I did, but I want to be able to put myself in the best possible position in the future, for whatever opportunities might come my way.

Was I certain that going back to school would do that? Of course not, but it certainly wouldn't hurt!

Charles Dickens demonstrated this well, when at 22, he tried for the second time to get a job at the Morning Chronicle. He orchestrated a trifecta of people to contact the establishment on his behalf.

In Becoming Dickens, the author writes:

Although his uncle's first attempt, in 1833, to secure him a job on the Morning Chronicle had failed, in 1834, Dickens continued to press his case: in person, by writing to the long-serving editor John Black; through his father, who followed Dickens's approach by contacting the influential Whig parliamentary agent Joseph Parkes to promote his son's "competence in every respect for the duties he will be required to perform"; and via his old friend Thomas Beard, who had recently moved to the Chronicle from the Morning Herald. Eventually this triangulation of forces broke through, and in August 1834 the Chronicle appointed the twenty-two-year-old Dickens as full-time reporter at a basic salary of 5 guineas per week.