Ever been in a meeting and your leg won’t stop bouncing up and down? Or you nod affirmatively at everything someone is saying in the hopes the conversation will end soon? I have. I’m sure at least one of you reading this has too.
We strive to be patient but we don’t always succeed. Don’t beat yourself up. When you are an entrepreneur or a leader (or a human being) you are typically pulled in a million directions. At any moment in the day, your brain might be swirling tasks around in your head like a lottery ball machine.
We know that patience is a virtue, but impatience can also be a virtue, when it has information to impart, or when it can raise our level of self-awareness.
It’s important to unveil the triggers of impatience to recognize whether it is geared to thwart or help you. You can certainly be patient to a fault and you can also be beneficially impatient.
There are three valuable lessons we can take away from our impatient moments in life:
1. Impatience teaches us patience.
It’s very easy to be patient with people that don’t test our patience. That’s not the real test. The real test is when we feel impatience rising up in our blood, enveloping us. In those moments whatever is transpiring is your patience teacher. These are the opportunities to build the habit of patience, as obvious as that may sound. You are feeling impatient because you haven’t mastered patience yet.
We tend to excuse our impatience, blaming the person, place, or thing while exonerating our negative reaction in the process. This is called the Self-Serving Bias: The tendency to attribute our successes and good behavior to our innate abilities and the tendency to outsource our failures and bad behaviors to external factors. Recognize when impatience is coursing through you. This self-awareness will abate the suffering and strengthen your patience muscle.
2. Impatience is a motivator.
Impatience and inspiration are like two sides of a coin. Without a little impatience we may never start. Inspiration spawns the desire and impatience gets you acting on that desire. You might say it’s the opposite of complacency. If you find yourself generally impatient it might be a signal that you have untapped creative energy bubbling inside of you. Released it and put it to use!
3. Impatience is coded information.
Your impatience may be trying to tell you something. For instance, you may have scheduled a meeting at an inopportune time. The meeting commences and you are jumping out of your skin because you have more important things to attend to. In this case your impatience is telling you to be conscientious and protective of your time.
Expectations can often lead to impatience. You want someone or something to behave a certain way and when he/she or it doesn’t you realize it’s not in your control. Impatience starts to slither its way through you. The information it is imparting is that you may need to adjust your expectations.
The upsides of impatience are not free passes to act disrespectfully. We should continue to keep ourselves in check so we don’t run amok and alienate ourselves. Just like any emotion, impatience isn’t intrinsically bad per se, it’s how you choose to express your impatience that can hurt you.
Self-awareness is key. It is the ingredient that goes with everything in life. Watch your mind and stay alert regarding your behavior.
Examine why certain situations make you impatient more than others. What are the triggers? See if there’s some insight you can extract. It’s a good way to ensure you don’t have to repeatedly experience the same unpleasant experience.
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