Wanting things ‘yesterday’ is part and parcel of life nowadays. If your urban lifestyle and upbringing hasn’t ingrained that, thanks to the instant gratification life we lead it’s difficult to fight that tendency. The inner asian in me is also loaded with beliefs that impatience isn’t a good thing.
As the years progressed, especially during this first year as an entrepreneur, I’ve learned to see impatience in a new light. I still tend to see it in a negative light, but have grown to appreciate that it as an emotion that’s useful if it’s approached in the right way.
When it helps you earn
When it comes to starting up anything, it’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘waiting till its perfect’ before doing anything. Impatience can be the emotion that spurs you into taking the necessary steps in the right direction.
Makes you learn how to DIY
Waiting on others to provide their services is unavoidable, but there will be times when there are small matters that might be worthwhile learning to do yourself.
Spurs creative thinking
We take for granted just how resourceful or creative we can be when we set our minds to it. Impatience helps us ask important questions on how to accomplish our goals in better or faster ways.
When it burns
In our rush to get results, we can unintentionally overlook things. As a result, our products, services and very reputation can be put at risk.
When we lose control
Steve Jobs worshippers might occasionally mention his temper and lashing out at others in his pursuit of perfection. You could belong to the camp that thinks it’s okay, or believe the ends don’t necessarily justify the means.
On a more personal level, much of our anguish as entrepreneurs come from how we manage our emotions. Impatience can cause us to suffer unnecessarily, especially in matters that are out of our control.
Harnessing the good, while guarding against the bad
Good questions that help us use impatience
What is my goal and why?
The magic behind this question is the ‘why’ portion. When you’ve identified a strong reason behind wanting that goal, you’ll feel a more powerful emotional push. The stronger the emotion, the more likely you’ll be able to spur yourself into action.
What if I don’t take action?
Motivation is sometimes a combination of a pain and gain. If you’ve addressed the gain in the first question, this one allows you to imagine the pain. Feeling stuck in a company where you don’t feel any growth? Working for a boss that you hate? Relaxing on your recent success? What would happen to you in 6 months, 12 months, or 3 years down the line?
How can I achieve my goal in 1/2 the time?
This powerful question puts us into creative mode, and allows us to imagine alternative ways we are able to accomplish what we want. My personal experience with this question is that it not only helped me with alternative routes to my business, but allowed me to look at the bigger picture and plan other areas such as my finances.
Steps that help us manage our impatience
Why am I really feeling impatient?
This simple question becomes more powerful once you ask ‘why’ a few more times. A possible result of this might be you realise that you were directing your frustrations at the wrong target. It allows us to uncover a deeper understanding to the situation, and hopefully add a perspective that neutralises some of that negative feeling.
‘What if’ the other person…?
There’s a nice quote that I read from Tim Ferriss, which was about the times when you ask people for help, and they don’t respond. To paraphrase;
“Don’t ascribe to malice that which incompetence or busy-ness could be the reason”.
Sometimes, people don’t act in the way you expect or want because they either can’t or are just too caught up with their own lives. By asking a rhetorical ‘what if the other person…’ question, we can become more forgiving (and patient) with others.
Managing your physiology
“A hungry man is an angry man” is something I relate to quite well. Much of our emotional state depends on the physiological state we’re in as well. Not enough sleep, hunger, stress, fatigue can all play a part in allowing us to become more snappy and impatient than we really are. Asides from attending to those things, taking a simple break to close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths can be enough to snap you back to a more ‘real’ you.
Impatience doesn’t have to be just a negative influence in our lives. By working with it, we can harness the best of it, while managing the times when it rears its ugly head. How do you strike that balance?