I find patience fascinating. It’s a learned skill for me, not a natural one. It’s still not natural, it’s a choice, and I’m constantly making course corrections. As I practice I learn a lot about how and when to overcome my nature vs let it run. Because it’s an entirely learned skill for me, I’ve also become incredibly observant and aware of it in other people, both those who do it well and those who don’t.
One of the main reasons I simplify skills is so it’s easier to recognize when I’m making fixable mistakes vs totally off course vs just not good enough. This “speed to recognition” feature of simplicity gives me the benefit of better improvements, faster, with less major errors, at significantly lower cost to my time and emotions.
For example, with patience, improve speed to recognition of the two most common, costly, but fixable mistakes:
Expecting big results and final outcomes soon after taking action.
Being passive and inactive but calling it patience.
These mistakes operate at opposite ends of the patience spectrum. The first expects immediate major outcomes from minor short term effort. That ends in criticism, anger, or resentment. The second passively waits for outcomes without working to get them. That results in wasted time, missed opportunity, or a victim mindset.
Friend, hear me on this one and let it sink in . . . those two mistakes are 99% of patience errors and ALWAYS LEAD TO THE SAME END RESULT.
Quickly recognize each time you drift toward one or the other. However and wherever you need patience in your life, focus on staying between the lines and away from these extremes. Stay on the path of active effort and understand results will come when you are good enough to earn them and it will payoff.
Self-awareness It’s ok to want it right now as long as you understand you won’t get it now. You’ll get it if and when you do the work well enough, long enough, and a little bit of timing goes your way. It’s important to invest in yourself to develop this mindset. This is more of an emotional understanding than an intellectual one. It’s overcoming immediate desire and temporary frustration or disappointment. Patience requires intense focus on action now with a confident vision on payoff later.
Self-discipline On August 6, describing Three Uncommon Practices for an Uncommon Life, I wrote, “Be patient. Patience is not passive. Be aggressive.”
On January 9, describing Patience + Urgency, I wrote, “The time always passes. Three years from now, you’ll either be glad you were patient or regret that you weren’t.”
Control your mind and your action to combine these two practices. Most won’t. Be the exception.
Self-confidence There is no guarantee besides opportunity and adversity. Payoff is not promised. Painless paths don’t exist. Everyone faces their version of the same journey.
Your story is told over the totality of your life, not by a single moment. No matter where you are or what you’ve done, you have time to be patient, but none to waste.
Do the work.
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Brian Kight is a multi-industry leader on the topics of leadership, culture, and behavior. He provides simple systems that produce exceptional results for organizations, teams, and people.