How to Wait: Tips for Increasing Patience

Patience is the ability to tolerate the discomfort of waiting for a desired goal.

All too often, it seems easier to take a short-sighted, impulsive action rather than wait. However, impulsive actions are typically poorly conceived, prematurely expressed, unduly risky, or inappropriate to the situation. They usually result in undesirable consequences by choosing short-term gains over long-term goals and strategies for success.

Patience — the ability to wait for a desired outcome — comes from consciously balancing the opposing forces of acceptance and change.

When a person is only operating in acceptance, relationships flourish but goals often get slowed or halted. When a leader acts only to change things ‘come hell or high water,’ the proverbial round peg goes in the square hole, which causes all sorts of problems. When a person is patient, they harness the strengths of both acceptance and change while mitigating the downsides of each. They can accept limitations and manage expectations, while also attempting to change and move forward in ways that are reasonable, taking the time to create stakeholder buy-in.

In other words, the key to applying patience is as simple as one word: wait. The priest Henri Nouwen once wrote that “a waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”

While impatience leads to cutting corners and diminished trust, patience allows people to persevere during challenging times. If you are willing to tolerate the irritation of waiting, you will be poised to act in a moment that most effectively leads to problem solving and opportunity capture.



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