Patience is a virtue. While there is wisdom in that cliché, I’ve also come to appreciate the value of impatience. For those of us running businesses and working toward goals, impatience is a performance driver. But if all we appreciate in impatience, we miss the joy and creativity. It is the balance between the two where the sweet spot lies.
Recently, I participated in a leadership program for the National Speakers Association. As an incoming chapter president in Washington, DC, I found myself in a room full of successful people who put themselves out in the world in a risky business. Only three years into my business and striving hard to grow and succeed, my emotions ran the gamut:
Deflated. There is much further to go with my business. I need to work harder and faster. Impatience sets in.
Reflective. These professionals built their businesses over fifteen to twenty years. I need to celebrate my path so far and enjoy the journey. Patience sets in.
Perhaps you are also a person who is goal-driven and focused on achievement. If so, you know that we tend to push ourselves, and others hard. In the best case, we accomplish more than many. In the worst case, we wear out everyone around us and we miss the magic. Join me to reflect and be thankful for both impatience and patience.
Impatience. Let’s celebrate impatience. Impatience pushes us out of the comfort zone. It sets high expectations and causes continual striving for efficiency and productivity. Let’s rejoice in how it feels to accomplish goals and overcome challenges. Neurologically, impatience adds urgency to the brain and – to a point – moves it into high-performance mode. With minimal stimulation, the brain is less engaged. As stimulation increases, brain function also increases. If stimulation becomes too great, however, brain function drops off. Think of brain performance like an upside down “U.” You want to work at the top of the U and impatience pushes us there. The trick is to find patience before you slide down the back side of the U.
Patience. Let’s seek out the joy of patience. Take a deep breath, pause, look around and be thankful. Patience provides time to notice the world and delight in it. Patience provides the time and space to engage with people, nature, and our inner self. Patience enables creativity and learning from others. If you only look down at the next step on the path you miss the scenery along the way.
For those high-achievers who tend to be more impatient than patient, how do we ramp up patience. Here are the ideas I am impatiently implementing to build patience.
- Make a list of all you wish to accomplish. Now, cut it down to half its size. I know… everything on the list is important! But, admit it, you crammed ten pounds into a five-pound bag. It would have been an overly demanding schedule with no time to experience patience.
- Celebrate your successes. The successful people I work with rarely pat themselves on the back. They don’t pause to look back at their trail of successes. Use the moment of patience to appreciate the hard work you accomplished.
- Revive your brain. For over-achievers, take consolation from knowing that the brain is at its most productive when we give it quiet and sleep. Patience brings quiet moments where the brain assembles the internal puzzle pieces that result in creativity. Without the down time that comes from patience, you will lack new vision or new ideas for the future.
As we enter this week of Thanksgiving, let’s be thankful for both patience and impatience. And particularly for this week, let patience rule the roost. Sit back, be patient, live in the moment and enjoy the journey.