Never has our world been less patient than today. We prefer our food drive-through ready, our conversations as quick as we can tap out a text on our smartphones, and when we need to make a purchase, we skip the trip to the hardware store or Wal-Mart and simply hop online and our friends from Amazon will have it delivered right to our doorstep in a couple of days. All of these examples indicate that patience is fast becoming a lost art.
Waiting is one of my very special pet peeves. I’m a man of action, and waiting often seems to be such a complete waste of my time. I’ve observed that the most patient people don’t stand motionless for hours, doing nothing but seething with anger, irritability, and impatience. The real key to their success is to practice active waiting. This simply means that, even while some things require waiting, we can avoid grinding to a complete halt by working on the parts that can be done ahead of time. My own lesson in patience is sitting in a tree stand or a hunting blind waiting for the monster buck that I have been watching for months or sometimes even years. Actively waiting can simply be taking quiet time to think about future priorities, making notes on a smartphone, or just dreaming about new opportunities. All the while, my eyes and ears are watching for movement or listening for sounds that signal that something is moving in my vicinity.
Here are a few things that strain the little patience I possess:
– Drivers on our highways that cannot drive the speed limit (or slightly above) while talking with someone else in the vehicle.
– Drivers who slow to a crawl while talking on the phone.
– Drivers that think that taking in the local sites of Amish Country can and should be at the expense of everyone else on the roadway.
– Last, but not least, people who think that texting while operating their vehicle is an acceptable function of driving.
All of these needless delays are very disrespectful for those of us who actually have things to do and places to get to. I think you get the idea. Having gone through this little tirade, I fully realize that honking my horn and calling these people names is not a really good way of coping with the situation. Dealing with inconsiderate people is probably my number one hang-up. This is primarily a matter of having self-control, an important element in my avoiding high blood pressure and road-rage. Thankfully, I have some “masters of active waiting” in my inner circle who are brave and willing enough to mentor me. My impressively patient wife is one of these people, and with her help I’m trying to improve on this.
Bill Gates once said, “Patience is a key element of success. If you are the owner of a small business and you don’t succeed right away, you shouldn’t be discouraged. Keep following your dreams and do everything in your power to reach all your goals. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by all the obstacles that will appear in your path! Be brave, and don’t give up because you will definitely be successful some day.” There’s no question he’s right about that. Statistics say that 20% of all businesses fail within the first year, and 30% fail in the second year. That means over half of all businesses fail before they get to year number five. I seriously doubt that patience is the only contributing factor to this, but it certainly is a big one. Five years seems to be a magic number in the business world for companies to really start gaining momentum and turning a profit.
The real difference is what we do or don’t do during those difficult first years. It’s said that doing the same thing and expecting different results is a form of insanity, and that is where the term “active waiting” comes in. Actively waiting is nothing more than trying new methods and ways of doing the things that lead us to our goals. This is not only true in business, but also in striving to reach our life goals as well. When we allow ourselves to come to a complete standstill, we become irritable, restless, and angry because our plans didn’t work out. We tend to take action that is not appropriate, consistent, nor productive. Patience and the flexibility to try something different to achieve the desired results are crucial to personal and professional success.
True patience has a very positive impact on our lives and overall well-being. Patience lets us nurture and grow our relationships with others and helps make us better people. It reduces our stress and keeps us from being angry, anxious, and overwhelmed. It helps us make better decisions when we are willing to slow down and assess the big picture and analyze costs. The chances of making big mistakes decreases significantly. Dealing with our frustrations and obstacles fosters empathy and understanding. Taking all of this into account, if we can master this elusive art form, we will enjoy life more and develop better long-term relationships.
Lodestar Guidance Founder