What are you best known for: patience or intolerance; perseverance or frustration; calm or agitated? Would your critics suggest that you are a patient person or that you are more restless? When does impatience manifest for you? Are you aware of your “normal” position on this? Is exercising patience hard or easy for you?
I love the Wikipedia definition of patience for the business context: Patience is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one’s character can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.
I have learned that patience and perseverance are good bedfellows. That anything worthwhile will take some time, be it in its planning or execution. I spoke about this in Dancing until it rains that anything worthwhile is worth persevering, no matter what – until it manifests in the desired outcomes. That we don’t just do a rain dance and hope. We dance until it rains; no matter how long that takes. However, that is not to say that we need to bide our time all the time. Of course there will be opportunities that we need to grab with both hands to capitalize on them.
What I am talking about however is what appears to be the constant need for urgency. We all know that the urgent isn’t always important. We also understand that the important doesn’t have to be urgent. And those of you that have been following my blogs know that I am somewhat cynical about the urgent, in that too often it has become urgent because it wasn’t planned properly and often left for too long.
In the context of patience, this ever present need to rush (or appear to be busy) is often the generator of anxiety and unnecessary worry, thereby helping to fuel impatience. Remember my suggesting that worry is using your imagination to create something you do not want?
Time and the bigger picture
Patience on the other hand can create the exact opposite to worry. It allows us to step back and look at the bigger picture; at our purpose – the reason why we are planning or doing something in the first place.
We speak of “chunking up” where we look at the bigger picture and have a vision for where we are going and why we are pursuing something.
We speak of being “chunked down” where we are stuck in the detail, worrying about all sorts of things that could go wrong, thereby losing sight of our vision. In which of those two scenarios do you think we would be able to excercise better patience?
Being chunked up gives us time to see beyond the immediate and beyond the obvious, allowing us to see the less obvious. Maybe patience also enables us to better use our intuition, to give it some space to “tell us” what we might be missing in the rush.
I have been watching quite some Super 15 Rugby over the weekend given we are at the “business end” of the season where the 6 teams remaining to fight out the finals playoffs were determined. Those that won, (my team The Natal Sharks against all the odds) not only played with more determination – wanting the win more than the other team, they still had the patience to watch for the other team to make mistakes and then capitalize on them. They knew that the game lasts 80 minutes and that it is vital to be completely “on” for the full 80 minutes; that patience will be rewarded over that time.
I find Rugby such a great analogy for life in business. On the rugby field these things happen at a blistering pace, and players have split seconds to make decisions that can profoundly alter the run of the game.
In business it doesn’t have to happen at that pace and seldom does, right? We have time to reflect and time to decide, usually allowing ourselves the luxury of considering all the options and Planning in scenarios so that we choose the best options and plan how best to make them work.
Would you agree with me that we are often the ones that rush the process unnecessarily? With more patience we would stack the odds in our favour by slowing down and recognizing the smartest options, not just the obvious ones?
“On” or “off”?
Running one’s own business depends strongly on the mantra: “if it’s going to be, it’s up to me”. And so we have all the choices, don’t we? We can rush. We can slow down. We can decide when to be “on” and when to be “off”. It is impossible to be “on” all the time. But with all the benefit of flexibility, it is critically important to know when to be “on”.
This also plays out in the overall time context, where the impetuosity of youth meets up with the wisdom of age. In my coaching and mentoring work I am always impressed when (rarely) I encounter a younger generation client that understands and applies the benefits of patience in their planning and working. That is not to say that it is necessarily a trait that is found in most older generation people, but is certainly built on the experience of time.
Irrespective of your age, where might you fit in that spectrum?
It is in this scenario that I have learned to become more patient with myself. To pace myself. To believe in myself. To have learned to set goals and apply Trusting oneself.
To allow the Law of Attraction to manifest. To do what I can when I can and to know what is Good enough when I can’t so that I will achieve the goals I have set and the outcomes I need and want nonetheless. Patience. What is due to me will come to me. What goes around, comes around. There are many such cliché’s aren’t there?
I’m sure we have all been both the perpetrator and the victim of impatience? Impatience in our competitive and busy world is very prevalent, isn’t it? To the point that it is almost considered “normal”. We’ve all seen it occur in the quintessential boss, right? In the case where we are one of those bosses, how often do we allow impatience to prevail and create tension or add to the stress in the office?
If you check in with yourself, and find this can sometimes be the case, perhaps this article can help raise your awareness of that and help you “catch it” next time you feel the anger or frustration bubbling up to the surface? When that happens again, why not consider Using “the Gap” to reframe yourself, give yourself a few deep breaths and consider what you will say or do next?
In my blog Personality Plus… I differentiate some of the more prevalent personality profiles, and I can see those of you that are the “high D” personalities probably struggling somewhat with what I’m trying to say here. You are better known for “making things happen – now”, aren’t you? Why does this have to take so long? Haven’t we done this thing to death now? Can’t we just get on with it? For you I believe that Margaret Thatcher’s quote: “I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end” is probably most relevant.
The Dutch are well known for their “directness of message”, right? I love the great Dutch proverb: “A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains”.
And while we are on quotes, this one from the late Elizabeth Taylor beautifully helps me make my point: “It is very strange that the years teach us patience – that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting” – a fitting tribute to the matching of legendary beauty with the wisdom of time
And so I like to end with the “so what” question: If the above has struck any form of chord with you and raised your awareness of this time proven concept of patience, how might you apply it in your coming week?
How might you benefit from it?
Conversely, why not reflect on your past week and remember where you might have reacted aggressively or impatiently or allowed your frustration to come through, and assess for yourself how you could have handled that differently?
Where might it make a difference to your outcomes, by allowing you to focus more on exercising patience and all the planning, preparation and thinking benefits that accompanies it?
What difference could it make in achieving the things that really matter to you?
What if you could?
Very well put Heiner
Right on the money again Heiner. Society as a whole appears to be losing patience with everything – just drive in peak hour traffic for 10 minutes and you see countless examples of people losing their patience over trvial things like having to merge in behind rather than in front of a car. I’m sure if those who do that were to step back and look at their behaviour they would see how pointless it is.
In my experience, the lack of patience does nothing but add stress, which then leads to further impatience – a vicious circle. I think learning to step back and see the big picture is probably the best thing you can do to fight impatience.