The Value of Patience

We’ve built a “hurry up” culture in which a fast result is often thought to be the highest prize: “Same day delivery,” “Lose weight fast,” “Ready in five minutes,” Twitter, Tik Tok, and so forth.

But favoring “hurry up” can be a mistake, because people rarely feel satisfied with a poor result just because they obtained it quickly. Think about it: How often have you enjoyed a tasteless meal simply because you got it so fast?

One of the most important side effects of this “hurry up” culture is the devaluing of patience. Children are by nature impatient and easily frustrated. But as we mature, it becomes important to develop the appreciation for and skill of waiting patiently for just the right time to act.

To help you feel better about allowing time to pass before you take action, here is a brief rundown of some of the ways that patience helps bolster your productivity and success:

Time for Growth

One of the major benefits of allowing sufficient time to pass before taking action is the opportunity for growth. Every day, in every way, you have the opportunity to get better and better.

Cultivating patience gives you more time to learn new skills, acquire new knowledge, develop better relationships, and in many other ways become better suited to taking the precise action at the exact right time that will help you obtain the results you want.

Time to Prepare

Another benefit of patience is that it gives you time to gear up and fully prepare for whatever action you want to take. Many people have the urge to “shoot from the hip.” But this kind of rapid-fire approach makes hitting the target much more difficult.

Your actions will be better thought out, better aimed, and better executed after you have taken time to prepare what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it. Preparation time also allows you to gather more resources and more allies, get them onboard, and get everything fully coordinated before you pull the trigger.

Time to Do Things Right

I had a friend who had literally no patience. She preferred to take action immediately. She felt good about living this way, but her life was far from well-organized, and to get the results she wanted she often had to re-do the work she had done on her hurried first attempt.

It was no wonder her husband called her “Slapdash Harry.”

It’s usually far more productive to spend enough time to do things right, and thereby secure the result you want for the long-term or even permanently.

There’s an old adage that has always made sense to me in this regard: “If you can’t find time to do it right the first time, how will you find time later to do it over?”

Time to Let Situations Develop

An important lesson I learned early in my career as a writer and consultant is that situations develop at their own pace. For this reason, trying to take action too early in the process usually takes extra effort and produces relatively poor results.  It may even create a train wreck.

On the other hand, when I wait for a situation to develop – I think of it as “ripening,” like a piece of fruit – then with relatively little effort I can often obtain top-flight results. Because this happens time and time again, it has been easier for me to value and develop patience.  

Time to Become Calm

Tension, agitation, and anxiety nearly always reduce a person’s performance. That’s why top-performers – athletes, executives, entertainers, and others – generally try to achieve a level of calm before they act.

Part of this calm feeling comes from practice and experience, which helps them feel capable to complete whatever action is called for , if only because they have done it countless times before.

But calmness also comes from patience: taking enough time to dissipate the high emotions often associated with difficult situations.

When you rush into a difficult situation, you can easily over-react, under-estimate the forces arrayed against you, mis-perceive what’s going on, and take the wrong action. On the other hand, when you have the patience to achieve a calm feeling, you’re more likely to avoid these and other errors, and to act more effectively.

The plain fact is this: everything moves at its own pace, and your desire for quick action and quicker results in your work and your life has little power to speed things up. You’ll do better when you honor the pace of the world around you, and even use it to your advantage, by exercising a proper amount of patience.

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