The Power of Patience

Burbank, California; March,2003;
Joan Marques, MBA, Doctoral Student

The beauty of almost every issue in life is that it can be perceived from at least two sides. And depending on where you stand and how the issue is presented to you will you experience it as positive or negative. Patience is an excellent example of a phenomenon that can either have a soothing, consoling connotation to it, or one that will only raise aggravation within you.

If, for instance, you need to wait for the results of a health test, an application, or the decision of your lover on your marriage proposal, patience can be an immense task! However, if you're just waiting on the notification regarding a registration date for your vehicle at the DMV or your annual dentist appointment, for instance, patience may not be such a chore at all. On the contrary!

What makes this whole topic even more interesting: Patience?like all other requirements in life?becomes easier as you mature. Some people even master the ability to bare their required patience with ease, no matter how much impact the issue at hand will have on the course of their lives. Have these people learned anything specifically along the way? Something the younger ones among us may pick up on? I tried to turn inside and analyze my own attitudinal changes toward burning issues in my life. What makes it easier now to accept a waiting period than 20 years ago? Here's what I came up with:

1. The aging issue: Time goes by faster as you grow older. Okay, this is one point that may not really be helpful to younger people, but it's the truth anyway. As we age, a day becomes a much smaller fragment of our life as a totality than it was when we were younger. And so is the case with a week or a month, or even a year! Older people barely get to realize that the day has started or they find the evening approaching again. This makes patience an easier task to accomplish.

2. The mindset issue: We should realize that we can only do so much, and that some things are out of our hands beyond a certain point. From that point on, we have to leave it up to others or-as some may put it-fate. To mention some specifics: once you've presented your application, proposal, or defense as well as you could, all you can do is wait. And you may as well try to distract yourself with other chores instead of torturing your spirit with sitting around and thinking on nothing but the underlying subject.

3. The mentality issue: People differ. There are young people who are more patient than older ones, solely because of their character. The more laid back types among us will accept patience easier when it's necessary. The more controlling ones, on the other hand, will have to keep point 2 above in mind constantly, and-if necessary- even get some help in training themselves to become more tolerant.

4. The environmental issue: Depending on what you learned at home or in your society, will you accept the requirement to be patient better or not. If you come from a pretty hectic home where your parents were both high-achievers, heavily involved in a stem, corporate work-environment, you may grow up to be a less patient person than your friend whose mom was a home maker and whose dad was an entrepreneur in a relaxed work-area. The same goes for your community: Growing up in a high-paced society such as Los Angeles or New York will increase your chances of becoming a less patient person than growing up in some more rural parts of the country.

Honesty requires me to admit that, although patience is often promoted as a virtue, it can be a major discourager too! If you have to wait too long for something, no matter how badly you wanted it at first; you may lose interest and turn into another direction. The fatalists among us will probably say, then, that it was not meant to be. And in great lines this perspective leads back to point 2 above, stating that you can only do so much after which the rest will happen through other people's decisions or fate.

I guess my best shot at some sort of concluding advise would be that-like all other skills-patience should be obtained to a reasonable level. But it should never be exaggerated. You should be patient enough to allow others their decision about an issue in a responsible way, but you should never let patience rob your life from all its action. Listen to the inner-voice and try to determine when you've reached your limits in waiting. That's when action becomes a must. Remember: you're alive, and life is short!


About the Author:

Joan Marques, holds an MBA, is a doctoral candidate in Organizational Leadership, and a university instructor in Business and Management in Burbank, California. You may visit her web site at