Patience As A Skill





Genius is eternal patience.  Michelangelo

Patience is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.

Let me start by confessing that anyone who really knows me would say that I am the “antithesis of patience.” Even with that said, I do see patience as a valuable skill that I continue to strive to master. I consider my lack of patience to be one of my few (I would like to think there are only a very few) character flaws. When I reflect on the business leaders whom I admire, they all seem to have this skill mastered. Some may call it a virtue, but I prefer to think of it as a skill.

In cases where patience is really required, I am able to at least recognize the need and retain a modicum of patience as the circumstance requires. Probably the worst case where I lack patience is with myself. When attempting to learn something new or use a new tool, I am one of those individuals who jumps right in and will never read the instructions or the manual or even press F1 for Help unless I find myself in such dire straits that I must do so to have any forward motion. You would think that I would have learned by now that if I would exercise a bit of patience to begin with, I would invest less time by making fewer mistakes. To counter this, I usually tell myself that I learn more by making these mistakes along the way. Didn’t someone say that we learn the best lessons from the mistakes we make? Well if they didn’t, they should have, because I certainly have learned a lot from all of my mistakes. I guess you can translate this into I make a lot of mistakes at first, but the only lesson I have not learned is to RTFM (read the funky manual).

It’s not that patience was totally missed in my family. It’s just  that it all got passed down from my mother to my sister and skipped me entirely. When on a recent trip with my sister and her granddaughter, I listened in awe as my sister was so extremely (and annoyingly to me) patient with my niece. I even asked her if she ever got frustrated and yelled at the grandkids and did she ever yell at her own children? This gave her a bit of pause and she replied that she could only remember one time yelling at her daughter and that she also probably was more patient with the grandkids. Wow! How many of us can say that? And worst of all, I believe her. I would like to think that I am a pretty good mother, but I know I spent a lot of time yelling. Once my daughter bought me a gift, it was a bright yellow apron that said down the front in gradually increasing size font “picky, picky, picky, picky…” you get the picture.

Today I was given a golden opportunity to build on the skill of patience. At our company meeting some organizational changes were announced. With my “doer” style I like to jump right in and start driving forward, but as is normally the case when reporting structures change, no one has all of the answers and some things have to play out in their own time. For a person who likes to have all of the I’s dotted and the T’s crossed, this can be a source of frustration and angst. However, I am going to see this as a personal challenge and an opportunity for professional growth. I have decided to be a model of patient understanding as we work through all of these positive organizational changes.  I can just hear my daughter as she reads this. “Yeah mom, I’ll believe that when I see it.”

I really think I can accomplish this. I’ll just remember my sister and her patient voice speaking to her granddaughter. Well maybe I’ll also take a deep breath and hum a little mantra. Something like, change is good, change is good, change is good, I know this change is good.  Wish me luck and hum along with me….


2 thoughts on “Patience As A Skill

  1. Well. I am way more like you than your sister. I agree she is extremely patient. But I think she yelled more than once.

  2. When my daughter was in grade school, we made some Christmas ornaments for the tree. One she handed to me, and with a smile, asked that I hang it so Mommy could see it. It said, “Practice Patience.” My daughter has always been a smart cookie.

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