Volume 2 | #23 | February 05, 2020


The expression “patience is a virtue” first appeared in the 14th century in a narrative poem called Piers Plowman. Its origin means the ability to wait for something without getting frustrated, angry or upset…..One would naturally assume this a valuable characteristic or virtue….but the technologic revolution of the 21st century has bombarded us with ‘impatience’….Today, we are not allowed the privilege of a patient response…we demand immediate gratification. Our inability to respond in nano seconds often creates frustration, anger and dissatisfaction…. not fair perhaps but very real in our everyday lives….so is patience no longer a virtue? Are we prisoners of our own making where impatience is the norm and frustration the emotional order of the day? How do we manage this patient/impatient conflict in our new world?

I remember when I was 10 years old and my demand for independence was a real and constant irritation to my Mom…when I demanded instant gratification my Mother instead of saying “NO” would invoke the deflection….”patience is a virtue, good things come to those who wait”….I couldn’t wait , of course, but my Mom was simply postponing a ‘No” to give me some time to reflect. I love the investigation of historic expressions because shortly after ‘patience’ appeared Chaucer wrote:” but virtue can also hurt you!” I know that in your pursuit of excellence that you probably believe that ‘patience’ is a valuable asset. …to think before you speak….to review or revisit a yet to be finalized decision….to study and research further before jumping forward…to measure twice and cut once!!! But ‘patience’ can also lead to procrastination. To delay or to defer action that should be taken immediately. “Patience” might infer indecision, timidity, or a fear of moving forward to those around you. Too much ‘patience” may cause you to miss the next great opportunity.

Its important to recognize that in the expression, as noted, the words “patience” and “virtue “are combined. Virtue is part of your moral compass…How you conduct yourself each day. “Patience “as a Virtue is really how you react to an issue or confrontation that causes you to be calm and restrained and not frustrated or angry. It’s also about overcoming the bombardment of negatives in your life without allowing them to overcome you…. turning a negative into a positive has been a cornerstone virtue of my life…hammered into me by my father!!! So when confronted with a negative , “patience “ ( it may be as simple as a deep breath ) allows you the time , the moment, to measure your response……and look for ways to turn this negative into a positive….ask yourself, can you remain calm in the midst of calamity and find a better solution? It takes practice!!!

Tom Blair writes a regular internet blog on a variety of subjects and recently addressed the three benefits of “Patience” …. Tom advises:

  1. I learn so much from keeping the proper perspective

When frustrated with a situation, Tom says….” step back mentally and physically…ask the questions…How did we get here? Where is the other person coming from? Why are we so opposed to one another?” This approach separates the emotion from the moment and causes a calm and reasoned response…from the opposite position…and makes resolution possible.

  1. The less I assume, the better I feel

Assumptions lead to impatience, says Tom….” if you assume the worst, that’s what invariably might happen “your strategy should be to assume the best possible outcome. …how do I turn this around? …how do I avoid what appears to be certain failure? some things, of course are beyond our control…S**T Happens!!! That’s ok…but if I assume a positive outcome, you will make it happen!!!

  1. Opportunity Abounds

Tom writes…” opportunity is everywhere, we are bombarded at the speed of light” … “Patience” sometimes gets in the way of action. Watch, observe, research, review and learn from the best in your industry but when it comes to taking action…. TAKE IT !!!”

Chris Larkin former CEO of Home Depot and Brookstone takes the opposite position,” Impatience is a Virtue” Chris writes:” why pursue your goals slowly?!!! Impatience causes you to think big and work hard for your goals”. Chris’s position borrows from the Volkswagen slogan…” On the road of life there are passengers and there are drivers…drivers wanted !!” In fact, both Tom Blair’s and Chris Larkin’s premises are quite similar…be measured and responsible in your response but don’t be stagnated by ‘patience’…don’t miss the opportunity because you studied the implications again and again.

Remember the Kenny Rodgers tune, from the ‘Gambler” ….” you got to know… when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run…. there’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done”

Patience as a virtue is, of course, not about gambling, but it is about preparation and securing a path to action…Patience will mitigate risk and produce reward…Impatience will help you capture that reward sooner!!!

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Live Positive!