In this blog I would like to do 3 things to help you:
Part 1 Explore what patience is and how it can help you in our current Covid culture and beyond
Part 2 Look at the benefits of patience for your business and your life
Part 3 Give you 5 activities that you can do to cultivate patience for yourself and your business
Part 1- Patience and our Covid culture
Do you love spending time with your family?
A recent study I found at hrnews.co.uk taught me that 44% of people interviewed in the UK, cherished family time the most, out of everything in their life.
Here are the top 5 from the study
50 THINGS BRITISH CITIZENS VALUE MOST IN LIFE
1. Family time – 44%
2. A happy home – 43%
3. Your physical health – 41%
4. Your mental health – 38%
5. Faithfulness in your relationship – 35%
I have found this belief to also be shared by other countries around the world too.
Whenever I ask attendees on my 5 types of motivation session what is most important to them, every time family comes up in people’s top 3 things. Isn’t that lovely? And I think it’s something that we should always keep in mind for our business – family – it is everything to so many of us.
And so a good question to ask is, how can we have wonderful relationships with our people – whether they are family, friends, clients, or customers? Despite our current world conditions?
There are, of course, many good things that we can do. And in this blog, I would like to suggest that it is the virtue of patience which can add so much, often misunderstood, value into our relationships and our lives.
Our hurry up and wait Covid culture
We are living in very interesting times at the moment across the world, with what I have started calling, our hurry up and wait Covid culture. On the one hand we have access to so many things instantaneously, which we do not have to wait for:
• Contactless card payments
• Amazon next day or same day deliveries
• Just eat home food deliveries
• Free apps and music
• Streaming movies and content
• Use of AI
• The internet!
However, we are also being asked in both business and life to put up with major and often unexpected disruptions and cancellations, due to Covid and its knock on affect on our interdependent economies around the world
• Cancelled holidays, flights, trains and transport
• Logistical interruptions
• Supply chain disruptions
• Food shortages
• Short and long term sickness due to Covid
• Cancelled events – often last minute
• Cancelled hospital and medical appointments
• Missed birthdays and family life events
• Uncertainty towards the future
This is quite a challenging mix for us to handle, as in some ways, we are spoiled for choice by the almost instantaneous nature of some of the things we have access to with the swipe of a finger, or click of a button. But, we are also being asked to deal with incredible
long term strain, frustration and existential pain in almost all areas of our lives, at some point, due to Covid.
I would like to try and help you with this.
What is patience?
A fairly standard definition of patience seems to be a capacity to tolerate delays or problems without being annoyed or anxious. That sounds like quite a useful ability to craft doesn’t it?
I’d say, especially for business at the moment it also involves an ability to:
• Be ok with things not being exactly how we want them at the moment
• capacity to have the vision to see beyond the present moment
• An understanding that certain things take time
• An understanding of the value that the best things – such as financial security, relationships and a great reputation, require patience.
So, what does patience mean to you?
Is it something that you find difficult or easy?
I think that no matter who we are in the world in our business, we have all been disrupted and challenged to be patient at some point over the past 2 years, whether that be through national lockdowns, delayed payments, health issues or workplace disruptions.
And let’s be honest, a lot of this, although containing seeds within of promise and growth, has been incredibly difficult. You may have even experienced what health professionals call large T or small t trauma, depending on how difficult your circumstances have been.
For me, I found the first 12 week UK lockdown very challenging. I live on my own, and before the English government created bubbles – so we could mix with others – I had to spend 12 weeks in my house on my own. Previous to this, all my work had been with clients face to face, and I had seen my family every week, without fail.
It was the longest I had ever had to go without seeing a loved one, or even having a hug. It taught me a lot about patience, and as the world continues to deal with the challenges and frustrations that Covid is bringing, an ability to be patience and think long term, is becoming not just a commendable virtue, but an essential trait for us to pace both our business aspirations; and how we plan out our lifestyles and daily routines.
So, let’s wave a hypothetical magic wand for a minute, and give you a feel for how good life can be, when you are able to be patient in how you see interpret and live your daily life.
Part 2 – The value of patience and what it can give to you
Patience can show you that it is indeed possible to be what you want, and achieve what you want to be and do; if you can appreciate that it must be done through a long period of time.
Patience can help you to manage your expectations and be ok with what is not possible in the present moment.
Patience can bring you an appreciation of the past, the present and the future, and how they are all connected. For example, your every present moment was once in your future, and will soon be in your past. Patience helps you to appreciate this chronological interconnectedness.
Patience can truly change your appreciation of things over time, if you keep something in your life. Here’s a personal example. Growing up, I was (and still am) a fan of heavy music. However, when I was a teenager, I did not like the music of America nu metal band Linkin Park. There was no particular reason, I just didn’t like it. However, over a period of years, actually 20 years now, I began to like the music more and more. And now I love their first album particularly. I can now see that the music was always good, I was just not ready to see that when I was younger. Seen through a patient lens, over a period of years, I can now appreciate their quality. And it makes me excited to think, where else can we do this?
The benefits that being patient can give you in business and in life
We all want our businesses to grow. That may mean a bigger workforce, increased profit, influence, asset creation, bringing value into our communities. There are many ways to grow, just as there are many things in nature which grow. And yet, it can be so tempting to think, faster is better, we must have it now. If we can save time, we should. When I speak to people who have been in business for decades, they often tell me that a state of steady progressional growth is best, and I am inclined to agree.
Growth can also bring problems into your business. If you grow too quickly, you may not be able to offer the same standards to your clients as you have before; or you may need to quickly create infrastructure, policies and procedures. Good things take time to make. Like babies taking 9 months, or the changing of the seasons. No matter how much we may want to change this, growth must involve periods of waiting and expectation.
If you can bring patience into your approach to business, then your growth can be deep and long lasting. A patient business person can invest in property or financial portfolios over a period of decades. A patient business person can see that new young members of staff must be both supported and held accountable over a period of time to become experienced and responsible – this in particular, cannot be rushed. A patient business person can see that their business has value and potential for growth that they may not even be able to conceptualise at the moment- and it excites them!
Real, deep, nourishing relationships take time to create. With your customers, your suppliers, your referral partners, your employees, your peers. If you doubt this, just think of how much time you have spent in your life getting to know, and hopefully befriend yourself, so far. It’s taken decades. So why should we rush this? Why should we expect to obtain such treasures as trust and reputation in days, weeks, months or even years? We have no right or entitlement to that. Instead, we have the opportunity to do right by others every day, and so to create bonds that can become tighter, stronger, firmer and potentially, even unbreakable.
If you can be patient in your relationships, you can build true trust with others.
If you can be patient in your relationships, you will see the beauty of the other person as they change, adapt and grow.
If you can be patient in your relationships, you will be able to see that the other person is doing the best that they can, in that moment, with what they know.
If you can be patient in your relationships, you will never expect from others right away, and thus be more willing to give understanding and to listen properly to them.
If you can be patient in your relationships with others, you will give them the time and space to feel comfortable to be their true self around you – this is one of the great privileges of life.
Steven Covey in his time matrix helped me to learn that the most important things, such as building relationships, values clarification and re-creation, are not actually urgent. And that’s why good health can be so difficult to cultivate.
If we do not eat well, exercise, sleep well and look after our stress for a few days, maybe even a few weeks, nothing too major would happen. However, if we did this for several years, we may be dead! So what is happening here in relation to our health, patience and the passage of time?
I think a very simple way to cultivate health through applied patience is to use this self-reflective question – is the choice I can making going to benefit and improve my current and future health? Good choices, movement choices, environmental choices, and sleep choices. All of these areas, when combined, can add up to wonderful, sustained health, and create a vitality and energy which you can then bring into your business.
I’ve learned so much about health and fitness over the past 15 years or so. And I’d like to give you a real life example of how I have been applying patience into my training and nutrition, and how I see my body.
For the first six weeks of this year, I applied a lot of discipline and worked out regularly at the gym, ate well, and walked every evening. And over a period of six weeks, I lost quite a lot of fat from my body, and saw some noticeable positive changes. This is good, but as I have learned over the years, real valuable health should be sustainable – it’s a way that you live, not a place to arrive at for a short amount of time.
And so, on a recent business trip, I was delayed by several days away from home. I couldn’t work out as I usually could. It wasn’t possible to eat as I normally do. I couldn’t sleep as I normally do. All of the usual choices that I make, were either taken away from me or reduced. In the past, this would have caused me distress, as I would think that I would undo in a few days, the health and fitness progress that I had made in six weeks.
But nature doesn’t work like that, nature works long term, and nature is patient. So I know that even if I put on a few pounds of weight, I can lose them in a couple of weeks. So why not be ok with them now, knowing that they are temporary? This patience with myself gave me a better perspective on the issue. So, if you’re currently unhappy with any aspect of your health or your body, try applying a similar patient approach. Be a friend to yourself as you go through the ongoing transformations and changes that all of us go through over the years.
Making judgments in business is an essential part of daily life. And you may well have to make dozens of them every day: regarding products, services, marketing, sales, relationships, branding, personnel, issues, problems, opportunities and vision. And I would suggest that applying patience in the judgements that you make, will empower you to make better ones that will bring about the most benefit for yourself and for others.
So often, our emotions and thoughts fade away, but our actions and their consequences will remain. It can be difficult to apply patience every day, so be kind to yourself as you attempt to step outside of the present moment, and try to see the long term big picture for your business and life.
Here are some self reflective questions to help you to bring patience into the judgments and decisions that you make for both your business and your life
Is this a decision that I will be happy with next week, month and year?
Is there value here that I am missing in the present moment?
Will there be opportunities in this area in the next 10 years?
Is my current emotional state going to enable a good or bad judgement here?
Do I need to learn more about this area before I make my decision?
Have I judged this person too early?
Am I being too hard on myself here?
Is this in line with my values, which will not change over time?
Can I allow myself to get better at this over time, rather than needing to be brilliant right now?
Who will benefit if I think long term here?
Part 3 – five ways to practice bringing patience into your life
So now we understand some of the benefits that patience can bring as gifts to you, let’s look at some actions that you can take to cultivate this patience on a daily basis.
See every waiting moment as a chance to be patient – with others, with the situation and with yourself.
This might be waiting in traffic, for resources to download, for food to cook, for the weather to change. And know that you don’t have to do anything when you are waiting. Know that by being patient in the moment, you are allowing space in your day, and the true value of the present moment to be revealed through the passage of time. These can be moments of rest, self reflection or mind wandering for you. We don’t need to fill every moment with productive actions.
Waiting will always be a part of business and life – without it, everything would be happening all at once. Consider that. I also like to remember that waiting keeps me humble, because it reminds me that the world is not set up to make me happy and satisfy me in every moment, and nor should it. This humility can be very nourishing for our spirit. Try it, see how many times you can embrace waiting today, and not see it as a bad thing or a waste of your time.
2. Paying attention
Pick 1-3 things a day and pay attention to them.
Really look, listen, feel, smell, taste, touch them. Experience them and explore what they mean to you. This could be looking at the patterns of fabric on your towel, listening to the sounds of your commute traffic. Maintaining eye contact in your next conversation with someone. Truly being present in the present moment allows us to take part in it, but also remember that it is fleeting, passing and will soon be gone. And so this appreciation of the present moment can actually fuel your ability to cultivate patience, as it can help you to appreciate the transient and temporary nature of everything. Allowing things to come and go into the passage of time, can help you to deal with the challenging aspects of life, as well as cherish the good.
3. Past and future events
Pick a future event that you are wanting and looking forward to – getting a new client or piece of work, making a sale, creating a new product, enjoying a special anniversary.
Allow yourself to be excited, and to anticipate it. Then know that it is not here yet, and so let it go, knowing that every second, minute and hour will bring it closer. This letting go, is another aspect of patience – allowing time to do its work to manifest the event into your reality.
Similarly with a past event, think of a good or bad one. Analyse it, explore it and then let it go. This time allowing it to become part of the time that has already passed. Let the thoughts and emotions associated with it go too, these are often what anchor us to these events and keep them as if they are still occurring in our lives. Start with small things with this. If they were good, great! Allow yourself to reminisce, and then let them go. Equally, if they were bad, allow yourself to reflect, and then let them go too.
4. Doing something long and difficult
The best things that I have experienced in my life have all been long term and difficult.
Several of them actually have unlimited capacity and are bigger than me, and will never be fully explored. Here are some of them, all of which I would suggest you could give a try, to benefit from the patience, among many other gifts, which they can give you.
Music – this accompanied me for over 20 years. It has brought joy, happiness, consolation, serenity and peace and allowed me to play and enrich dozens of special life occasions for others.
Jiu Jitsu – practising this martial art for 12 years brought me discipline, grit, determination, confidence, calmness, strength and some amazing experiences.
Speaking other languages – these have opened up my mind, taught me history, given me new friends, improved my intelligence and created incredible business and life opportunities.
Business – this has brought freedom, inspiration, love, connectedness and self-transcendence beyond any of which I could have imagined.
I have shared these 4 examples, as none of these can be mastered in a week, a year, 10, or even a lifetime.
There is immense value for you to gain by allowing yourself to stick with something and not give up, over a long period of time. It can, in so many ways, allow you to grow yourself to a whole other level.
So try something new – a hobby, a language, a sport, anything. But stick with it for a year. Make a commitment. Don’t give up. The true value will only be revealed to you over time, you cannot just buy it or expect it ASAP. But once you have earned it, over a long period of time, this value and growth can never be taken away from you. Never.
5. Calibrated questions to help you to self reflect
Try asking yourself these questions regularly throughout your day, and consider them more deeply during your weekends.
How can I apply patience in this area?
Where am I being asked to develop my patience?
When am I currently impatient?
Why do I quit things?
When am I willing to hang in there?
Do I need to be busy all of the time?
What will my business and my life look like in 5, 10, 20, 50 years?
Who do I know who is very patient? What do they do?
Can I be kind to myself in this moment as I try to become more patient?Can I show kindness to those who are not patient towards me? (This one is brilliant, if you can do it).
If you would like to study patience further, I would recommend listening to or reading:
Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu
12 and a half – Gary Vagnerchuck
Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
Your patience can grow.
It’s less like a bucket, with a limited amount of liquid patience inside. Instead, it is more like an elastic band, just when you feel that you might snap, you can pull back and reclaim your elasticity. And then stretch further.
Evolution is patient – it took billions of years of years to create you, consider that.
And remember the instantaneous nature of our current hurry up and wait Covid culture. To be highly patient at the moment is to be a bit counter cultural, so why not try and be a bit of a rebel?
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
– Prayer of Saint Teresa of Avila