Saturday, August 14, 2010

Patience - It's All About You

One of my greatest assets is my patience. My colleagues are always impressed with how calm and focused I am. I don't like drama at all and dubbed myself the 'anti-drama queen'. Really, what is the purpose? When you create drama, you bring the spotlight to yourself. This drains everyone's energy, including yours since you have to sustain this attention-sucking disorder. I'm patient at home with my husband and child. This is not to say I don't do my fair share of freaking out at 8:30 before the school bus comes or during violin practices when my daughter doesn't focus. I probably should be less patient with some colleagues, but I understand their position.I'm probably the most hardest on myself than others. By the way, because I am so patient, it often gets misconstrued that I don't care about a situation. Ironically, it is because I do care and have a strong belief in it that I can be patient.

The key is to keep everything in perspective when unexpected situations arise. How important is this issue when you zoom outwards? What would be the worst thing if you are 5 minutes late standing in line? Is it really that awful?

When I find myself being angry and impatient, I ask "why" until I can whittle down the answers.
      "Why am I angry at her for eating breakfast so slowly?"
       Because we are running late.
      "Why are we running late?"
       Because we should have woken up 15 minutes earlier.
      "Why didn't we wake up early?"
By drilling down, I realize my anger is not at her for eating slow, but at me for not waking up early.

The important thing about patience is to lose our judgement of others. It's so easy to blame others - the 'moron' driving slow in the left lane, technology for failing, clients not providing full and timely requirements. It's everyone else's fault, but our own.

Why do we judge others so harshly? We expect perfection and absolute stellar performance each and every time. And, when that fails, we become impatient and angry.

When you're angry and impatient, it's because you feel out of control. This is all a choice. You can choose to be angry or choose to let go. If people realized this little fact and implemented this as a mindset, it would change everything.

I've taken the perspective to look at delays as something important. A friend commented on her FB status that she sat in the doctor's office for 1.5 hours. However, she finally learned to use her iPhone. This is really the way the universe forces us to slow down. We were recently stuck in traffic en route to a family event. We were anxious in the car thinking it was badly planned construction traffic flow. However, there was nothing we could do but sit. When we moved up more, we saw that it was an tractor trailer accident. Obviously this was unintentional and unplanned. We said our prayers for those involved. We reached our event and learned everyone was behind schedule! Stewing in the car for 30 minutes would not have helped. Also, people don't remember what time we rushed in, but that we were present and participated in the event.
By the way, by accepting these delays, we are taking control of our situation. We are not allowing the traffic or the doctor to control our temperment, but ourselves.

I have a lot of thoughts on this topic and various scenarios that are too lengthy to detail. In the end, it is all about you and how you choose to accept or reject a situation.


J.Doe said...

I lose my patience frequently. Sometimes I think a nice uninterrepted sleep or a day at a day spa would help but who knows? How do you get patience?

Anonymous said...

Your whittling down approach is actually the approach the mgmt team at Toyota is taught: when a mistake has occured, you need to ask the "5 whys".

They have learned that it only takes asking the question "why" 5 times to get to the root of the problem.


Indigo B. said...

Actually, that's how I came upon it. It's part of Six Sigma, which we use at work. It's not just processes at work that need to be fixed.. sometimes it's your own life.