If you're like me, you do a lot of waiting. I wait for my computer to boot up. I wait for food to cook. I wait to get paid. I wait for the mail. I wait in long lines at the grocery store. None of this is all that new; it probably happens to you as well.

Samuel Francis Johnson
via Pixabay

We live in a pretty rushed society where we want instant gratification. Have you ever seen so many 15 second commercials in your life? The answer has to be no because back in the 70's, 80's and 90's we didn't have 15 second commercials; most of them lasted a minute and told a story. The speed of commercials today is such that often we have no idea what the product we're being pitched is.

You want your cell phone to be on "now", the same as your TV. We eat fast food because we don't want to wait 10 minutes for food to cook. And today, behind another car waiting to get money from the ATM, I had to wait while the lady in front of me got her money, then took the time to, probably, put her money in her wallet and then her purse before driving away, even while knowing I was sitting behind her.

We have to wait for things; it's just a natural occurrence. Yet, I believe all of us, especially leaders, still need to practice how to be patient. Why is that?

I continue hearing stories from people who say they get pushed at work to learn new concepts and procedures they have problems understanding. It may be a part of the job they have to do, but what many leaders fail to realize is two things. One, just because people do a job doesn't always mean they understand it, and two, training is only as good as the trainer and the materials used to help someone learn.

Leaders don't always want to hear that sort of thing but it's true. Many years back I remember having meetings with staff where I'd be talking about something, and then I'd get that feeling that they had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. I'd ask someone to explain what I'd said and they'd stare at me.

I'd ask if anyone else wanted to take a shot and if I got no response, I'd realize that I needed to go back further and explain things a lot better until everyone got it. I realized that I needed patience, taking the time to go back through things. Even if I had to do it more than once, I'd do it until the majority had a better understanding of what we were trying to do and accomplish.

It's the same kind of patience we need when working with customers. I've been on the phone with customers that take 10 minutes to explain a problem that should have only taken a minute. I've also been on the phone with customers that have taken longer than what I'd initially perceived to explain their issue, then realized that their issue was really something else and I'd have missed it if I hadn't been patient enough to fully listen. You can only imagine the patience I sometimes have to have while I'm consulting; the stories I could tell! 🙂

Acts of patience will make you a better person and a better leader. Do you need to practice patience or are you already good at it?