The holidays are all but upon us: The cheerfulness, the family traditions, the parties – along with the crowds, the flaky relatives, and the rampant commercialization. So today, a little talk about patience. Exceptional leaders know the power of patience. You can’t lead well when you let fear, anger or frustration get the better of you.
I struggle with patience. Don’t you hate it when someone tells you to “be patient?” Ever notice how this admonishment never comes when you feel like being patient? It only comes when someone is being inordinately obnoxious or you’re waiting for something that’s taking way too long. It’s never offered as a command, but as sage advice, like it’s actually going to help.
We usually think about patience only when we’re feeling impatient, which colors our definition of the word. Most of us define “being patient” as simply “not being impatient.” As humans we’re not very good at doing a negative. For example, if I told you not to think about a red truck right now – Boom! what just happened? Red truck, right? And the more you try to not think about a red truck the more the image clings to your mind. The only way to not think about a red truck is to take positive action and think about something else.
So what’s the positive side of patience? What is the “do” of patience? I think patience is the discipline (and art) of seeing each moment as valuable. Patience is about searching out the meaning in the moment and not longing for what’s next.
Whether you’re waiting in line at a crowded store, dealing with a quirky coworker, or you’re stuck in traffic, fight off impatience by striving to find the value in the moment you’re in. Use that moment for fruitful thinking, be fully present with who you’re with, daydream – at the very least, look for something to be thankful for. The change in perspective will improve your decisions, your experience, and the impact you have on those around you.