Each of us has what we can refer to as an “Achille’s heel”; that one faulty attribute that, if unchecked, will ultimately cause us to fail or, at least, miss out on reaching our full potential. Identifying this trait on our own is possible but difficult, so engaging someone you trust to help you find the truth is a great idea. Early in my life, a boss helped me identify mine: a lack of patience. As the saying goes, “Patience is a virtue”. Lack of it can be a lethal blow to your personal success.
Through my life experience & study, I have selected 10 attributes that I believe are key for living successfully. I am not defining success for you, other than to indicate it involves being healthy physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Your goals, dreams and every day rhythms are yours, and increasingly exhibiting these 10 attributes will ensure you successfully live them.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary lists the following definition of patience, which is not too helpful: the capacity, habit, or fact of being patient. Consequently, looking at synonyms can give us a richer insight into what patience is. Among the list that includes endurance, forbearance & staying power, my favorite is long-suffering.
In my opinion, we tend to set a low bar for patience in our society. If we don’t freak out on someone who has infringed on us in some way, we consider ourselves to have been patient. But, how much of your effort and time is spent internally fuming about the situation or gossiping about it to others? That is not a display of patience.
In my case, as identified earlier, my boss pointed out to me that I lacked patience both with myself and with others. I had high expectations for myself – perfectionist tendencies – and I projected those expectations on everyone that I worked with. I was inefficient because I was never satisfied with my own work, and I took on too much work when it became obvious to me others wouldn’t do it the way I would. This lack of patience manifested itself in my family life also. I cringe when I remember some of my interactions as a young husband and father.
Back to the list of synonyms, patience takes on a whole deeper level when you think of words like endurance, forbearance, staying power, and especially long-suffering. When patience is required of you, ask yourself if you have suffered this situation L-O-N-G. And think of it from the vantage point of an objective third party rather than just your own perspective.
This understanding of the idea of patience has helped me tremendously. I learned that success required me to understand when a task was done to the satisfaction of the stakeholders. For others, I learned that often their way of attacking the challenge was as good as mine and, if not, then teaching them was a better approach than just taking over the task. And patiently teaching again, and again, if necessary.
True patience does not run out. Even when a situation becomes untenable and change must be made, patience requires change to occur with compassion, as opposed to finally getting to settle the score. Retribution never equates to long-suffering.
Becoming increasingly patient is a key attribute for success. Be willing to suffer long.