In our lives we are often taught the lesson that patience is a virtue.
If we are patient we will hopefully be less stressed and will enjoy life more.
Moreover, many of the best things in life require patience to achieve- influence is one of them, as I discussed in this recent article.
Patience is also beneficial because there are many things that we simply can’t control so it isn’t worth worrying about them.
However, I think that there are certain situations where it is good to be impatient and in fact you will only make progress if you are impatient. They may include things like:
- Being impatient with yourself when this makes sense- for example you know you have a tendency to procrastinate or be lazy in certain situations, or where you know that you will benefit if you step outside your comfort zone.
- Being impatient with other people who don’t live up to their promises, especially if that affects how you are judged- especially if you can’t give the best service to your ‘customer’ (whatever that means in your case) because a third party has let you down.
- Being impatient when you feel that you aren’t getting the same service as others.
- Being impatient when an urgent change is needed, a situation is potentially dangerous etc.
- Being impatient when you aren’t afforded respect or your time isn’t treated as important.
- Being impatient when other people aren’t as passionate as you are, or don’t hold themselves to the same high standards.
Finding the balance between being patient- but impatient when you need to be- is hard, but can transform your life if you get it right.
I’ll give you a practical example. I am currently living in India. Here I am teaching influence to students at Saurashtra University.
While I am here, as in any new place I live, I have to strike a balance between patience and impatience.
Why do I need to be patient in India?
- I don’t speak the language (even though most people speak some English) so sometimes I don’t understand what is happening.
- The pace of life and the priorities are different.
- If I am not patient I won’t truly appreciate or learn from my new surroundings.
- Every country, including my own, has inefficiencies. Sometimes things can’t be helped.
- At times there are situations outside our control- for example there has been a local election in the area I live which put a lot of business-related things on hold.
Why do I need to be impatient in India?
- There are aspects of life here that actually reward impatience more than I am used to. It feels very much like a country where if you don’t ask, you don’t get. If you demand good service, people are often happy to oblige. If you don’t assert your rights sometimes it takes a long time to get anywhere.
- There are certain things that I have needed to be impatient about initially- like getting decent Internet sorted. Now that has happened I can be much more patient- I am a simple person at heart but without the internet I can’t build my business, stay in touch with loved ones back home etc.
- There are certain things that I accept will be more difficult or expensive for me here because I am a foreigner. For example I don’t have a local ID card which is a very useful document in a lot of situations here. Or for certain things there are ‘foreigner prices’- I’ve managed to avoid them so far but I don’t expect to be treated exactly the same as locals in this way. However there are other times when I am impatient to be treated the same and I make sure that I am. If I didn’t do that I wouldn’t make the progress that I want to and I wouldn’t be able to appreciate this lovely country in the way that I want to.
So- a mix of patience and impatience works for me and I have to constantly adjust the blend as I encounter new situations and live in different countries.
Can you see situations where you should be more patience- or more impatient in your career and life?