One the hardest things for me to learn over the years has been patience.
If you know me at all, you are probably nodding your head right now. You can probably sense I’m one of those people who just want things to happen faster and better—and when they don’t I get frustrated, anxious, and sometimes even upset.
My lack of patience can be directed internally or externally. I find myself wondering about others: Why don’t they feel the same sense of urgency I do? Or why don’t they see the vision of what I know could be so amazing?
As you may have guessed, I was not born with a patience gene.
When I was 19, I was about to leave on some overseas church service. Before I left, one of the local leaders in my congregation offered to give me a blessing and he asked me a simple question: “Is there anything in particular that you would like me to bless you with?” I said, “Yes, could you bless me with patience?” He smiled and said, “Oh, you want it right now do you?”
We all laughed, and it taught me a lesson I am still learning today. Patience is learned over time. It isn’t gifted in a moment, it is learned and earned. That it is a wonderful gift if we can just be … wait for it … patient.
We understand this with our kids. We instinctively know they need time to learn how to walk and talk (and as soon as they do, we tell them to sit down and be quiet!). Kids need time to work through their feelings and mature. Then we go to work, and we forget that everyone needs a little time.
Read More: When Little Children Have Big Emotions
I think that in business and life we need to slow down and give ourselves and the people around us a beat. My friend John Baldoni would call that “grace.” It is a gift we give others when we allow them to work though things. Our job is to give them more kindness and patience. Often the product or idea is much better than we could have hoped for when we give it a little more time versus ramming it through.
My partner in business, Adrian Gostick and I have written 14 books together. It has been a wonderful experience to research, write and deliver manuscripts to our publishers. Each writing experience is a process in patience that takes up to two years from ideation to book-in-hand. You can’t rush the process if you want it to be any good. Sure, there are deadlines, and we are good about hitting those. But we build in plenty of time along the way to pause and think things through.
There’s no doubt we live in a rapid-fire, digital world, where everything is 24/7 and 911. But if you want your work to be world-class, it’s important to build in times of pause, reflection and listening. And it’s important for your people too, if you want them to buy into your vision and do their best work.
Patience is a gift, one that is given us a bit here and there over time. For me, when I am more patient my anxiety levels are lower and I’m happier—as are those around me.
And yet, I must admit, I am still learning to be patient. How about you?
Read More: How Leaders Can Cultivate Patience in an Impatient World
This article was originally published on Chester Elton's LinkedIn.
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