In this week’s episode of Reflect Forward, we dive into the secret strength of patience. I love this quote by Joyce Meyer: “Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” If you are like me, you can relate.
I recently found myself, fingers drumming on the table, glancing at my watch every few seconds, waiting for someone running late. Frustration bubbled. Thoughts raced. Yet, amid the impatience, an epiphany struck: I am late for many things. Shouldn’t I be more empathetic? I don’t even know why this person is running late. Maybe I shouldn’t make grumpy assumptions?
As leaders, our ability to influence is shaped by our decisions AND patience. I understand; you might wonder, “Why should I prioritize patience, especially if it doesn’t come naturally? Shouldn’t I drive for results and hold people accountable? How do I tap into the secret strength of patience?”
The Importance of Patience
The answer to the above questions are “yes, yes, and it takes intention.” You can be patient while driving results and hold people accountable. In my early leadership years, I often jumped to conclusions or hastily embarked on projects without allowing them adequate time to mature. But patience, I’ve realized, is not about inactivity or resignation. It’s about calculated restraint, thoughtful reflection, and giving things room to breathe.
How does being more patient make you a better leader?
Trust Building: Patience shows your team that you value their input and aren’t rushing judgment.
Better Decisions: Hurried decisions often overlook vital details. I’ve been there, and the consequences weren’t pretty. Waiting provides a fuller picture.
Stress Reduction: As someone who once felt every delay was a setback, I can assure you that patience can be your shield against unnecessary stress for you and your organization.
Build a Better Culture: When you have a team built on trust, make better decisions, and people don’t feel stressed to the max, you create a culture of caring and engagement.
Cultivating Patience When You’re Impatient
Now, let’s tackle the elephant in the room. If patience isn’t second nature, how can you cultivate it?
Practice Mindfulness: I started with 5-minute daily meditations. Ground yourself, focus on your breath, and acknowledge your feelings without judgment. This small act made a big difference for me. Perhaps it will be for you, too?
Set Clear Expectations: When I started setting realistic timelines and communicated them effectively, the need for instant results diminished.
Seek Feedback: There was a time when a close colleague told me, “You’re racing, but we’re pacing.” That feedback was a mirror. Let your team and peers hold up the mirror so you can improve.
Delay Gratification: It might sound old-school, but try it. Whether it’s waiting an extra day to decide or avoiding the temptation of a treat, training yourself in small ways can lead to monumental shifts in mindset.
Find Gratitude: It’s not easy to be grateful for difficult situations, delays, lateness, etc. But by working to find gratitude in the hard things, you can shift your mindset and find the gift in any situation.
“To lose patience is to lose the battle.” – Mahatma Gandhi
It’s prudent to see patience as more than just a virtue. Consider it a tool, a skill, something to be honed. In the vast ocean of leadership, it’s easy to get swept up in the current of immediacy. But remember, greatness often comes to those willing to wait. Embrace the secret strength of patience, not just as a leader, but as a learner. The horizon holds wonders for those patient enough to see the wonder unfold.
Question of the Week
This week’s question comes from a fellow YPOer (Young President’s Organization, a peer network group comprised of CEOs and Presidents). We discussed why leaders need to be as transparent as possible and he asked, “What if you can’t be fully transparent? How do you communicate tough decisions?”
Listen in to hear my answer.
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