Leadership Trait of the Week: Patience

With easy access to instant messaging, quick text responses, and the ability to call someone halfway around the world in a few seconds, it feels as though there is a growing immediacy that has been implemented into our lives. We want things now, and if something takes longer than we expect, there’s the possibility that we become angry, anxious, jittery, irritated, and stressed. While having tasks accomplished quickly can be nice, the reality is that not everything happens right away. Projects, studying, learning an instrument or language, and working with others all require a valuable quality: patience. Patience takes practice, and it is a skill that is developed over time. Patience requires, well, patience.

When you feel yourself on the verge of annoyance, try these tips:

1. Breathe. When you get anxious, your heart rate might increase and you might start breathing shallowly. When this happens, take a long, deep breath and exhale slowly. It’s so simple but it really helps.

2. There is a time and place for everything. When you start to get antsy about things happening too slowly or at the wrong moment, repeat this statement to yourself. There is a time and place for everything. Everything we do has its time and it may not be right now in this instant. Trust that there will be a right time and place for what you want to happen, and you’ll find yourself allowing events to take place as they should. There’s no need to rush.

3. Step back and reassess. What is bothering you so much? Is it really that important in the large scheme of things? It’s important to understand when you need to take a timeout and reevaluate the reason why you are feeling impatient. Once you realize what is causing your irritation, you can then deal with each reason one by one without exploding.

4. Distract yourself. When you think about one thing so much, it can drive you crazy. Instead of letting your impatience get the best of you, do something to distract yourself, such as taking a walk, going outside to work on your free throws, or watch a TED talk.

5. Self-reflect. Not only do you want to step back and reassess the situation at hand, but it is also healthy to reflect on why you get worked up about certain things. Are you not getting enough sleep every night? Are you eating foods that are negatively affecting your health? Think about what triggers you and makes you lose your patience.

6. Write it down. One great way to self-reflect is to write everything you feel into a notebook. Jot down every emotion and certain events that made you feel a certain way. Reading through your journal might help you pinpoint certain moments that set you off. Once you know what those moments are, you can work on deep breathing or distracting yourself for next time.

7. Travel. Traveling is a great way to learn patience because when you leave your hometown, or state, or country, you interact with completely new people from different cultures. Learning how other people live can help you better understand why people do certain things. Traveling will help you develop a greater understanding of how to deal and work with others, as well as give you insight about yourself when you are aware of yourself interacting with people unlike yourself.

8. Stay positive. Practicing patience isn’t easy, but it is a very useful trait to develop. Remaining positive when you are frustrated and anxious can be difficult. When you are working with others in a group project or team building exercise, having the patience to talk through any issues or concerns is extremely valuable. Not only that, but learning how to have patience with yourself is a lifelong trait that you’ll most likely use on a daily basis, even if you don’t realize it. Patience takes time, and staying positive will only expedite your ‘patience process.’

How do you practice patience?