What is Impatience Costing You?

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.”

-Saint Augustine

“Do not be desirous of having things done quickly. Do not look at small advantages. Desire to have things done quickly prevents their being done thoroughly. Looking at small advantages prevents great affairs from being accomplished.” Confucius

What is Impatience Costing You?

Last weekend my husband and I were planting several small flowering trees that we received for a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation. Even though I knew before the trees arrived in the mail how small they would be, I was disappointed when I saw them. The trees were just tiny sticks with a few roots. Looking at these sticks, my first thought was “Why bother to plant them? They will probably not be of any size and beauty during my lifetime.” I wanted instant flowering trees and didn’t want to wait years to see results. Of course, I could go out and buy larger trees to see flowers sooner, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that every big tree was at one time a tiny stick, and it takes years of Mother Nature’s patient nurturing for the tree to reach its peak.

As we started to plant our trees, I wanted to just quickly dig a hole in the ground, plant the trees and be done. Instead of enjoying the beautiful sunny day and being outside in perfect weather, I was ready to move onto the next project. But my husband, being more patient than me, insisted that, if we were going to do this job, it needed to be done with proper steps. The steps being: dig a large hole, pick out all the rocks, loosening the surrounding soil, mix in organic compost and fertilizer, plant the tree, and then water. These steps would ensure that the tiny trees had a fighting chance. My way, (skipping 3 steps in the middle), would have resulted in the trees dying or being stunted. So my way, with my desire to save time and get the project done, would have actually been a waste of time.

I know that I am a project driven person and sometimes I am so focused on the results that I take shortcuts. Often this impatience to get to the end leads to having to do the project over again or scrapping the project. So what do I accomplish by rushing? Frustration and poor results. (Luckily my husband, with his engineering background, intervenes and saves the project when we are working on something together). The good news is that I am finally getting the message that impatience is harming me. My goal is to focus on the process, find pleasure in each task, and let the result come in its natural course.

With our hectic lifestyles, it is easy to rush to get more done. Where is impatience working against you? Are you, like me, so focused on the result that you forget to enjoy the process? Are you willing to slow down and find pleasure in all the steps? If you do, the results will be even better. I know – I just took a look at our trees and was excited to see new growth already!

Action steps you can take:

1. Examine your current projects; are you rushing to get to the end?

2. Put 100% of your focus into each step along the way; give each step your best effort.

3. Have fun with the process and watch the results be even better!

Copyright April 2005