We live in a "getting shit done" day and age. I won't go so far as to say it's all a scam but after years of experience, I have to say I found out the hard way how important patience is. It's usually just better to wait instead of forcing things. So often in life, things tend to work themselves out and we can't always better the outcome by trying to influence it.
Now don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with being focused and taking care of business. That is not what I am gettting at and you almost all know that you usually have to work on things to make stuff happen. Unfortunately, in the business world we don't have all the necessary experiences and skillsets at the start that we need. One of the things that I figured out is that patience is an art. You can learn it but you usually aren't born with it and it takes time. The younger you are, the more impulsive you tend to be. You don't have a "feel" for it and when to put it to use and when not to.
This isn't generally a bad thing. So many young entrepreneurs get ahead because they couldn't be bothered to sit and wait. Rightfully so! At the same time, so many, including myself rushed headlong into a situation basically winging it and hoping for the best instead of letting things take their course. I learned to understand patience by watching experienced people do their thing. After almost twenty years, I have to say those that were patient and never impulsive achieved the most. In my youth I was frustrated by their inactivity but in hindsight I saw how often it was a skill employed to better their outcome.
I could go on and on about this but I guess I can best illustrate my point with a couple of simple examples from my experiences:
1. Negotiation: my best outcomes when negotiating were achieved when I simply waited as long as possible. I waited to name my terms. I waited to name my price. I waited to respond to an aggravating email or to posturing. I waited for other options to appear. There was always a deadline of some sort. I had to get a deal closed, a customer signed, a partner on board and so forth. Yet, the majority of benefits (or mistakes) always came in the last moments. Wait for them! Be patient! Be diligent!
2. Employment: my worst jobs were the ones I jumped for, worrying that nothing better would come along. My best jobs actually appeared while waiting for another job to "get going" or a deal to be put on the table. They usually were unplanned positions, with an alternate company.
3. Fundraising: yes, you always "need" the money. It's usually better to have the funding on your account. But I've written often that it's not about the money. Further, desperation and fundraising do not go hand-in-hand. Not playing all your cards up front or showing need for the money always led to a better deal for me.
4. Fights: I don't mean bar brawls. There were always some kind of fights that turned up when doing business. The best response? No response. 9 out of 10 times, waiting to let things cool off resolved the problem. Emotion and anger never lead to positive outcomes (unless it's a bar brawl!) Wait for calmer times and then move forward.
5. Blogging/Tweeting/FB: I have erased many blog posts or updates simply because I waited a bit to think about whether I wanted to post something. Either I had made it too personal and someone would be harmed or it was out-of-line and didn't belong in a blog post or elsewhere online. This has definitely saved me a ton of aggravation. Patience was essential to see that something was off. There is never a need to be fast when on social networks or your blog (except if you're a journalist but that's another story!)
6. Firing/hiring: there are a ton of quotes out there "about never firing too early" and so forth. To some extent true but I feel that being patient and thinking about things and really understanding the situation have led to the best hires (and fires). Impulsive reactions when it comes to people and their jobs are just not smart moves.
7. Personal investments: I've made my best investments privately when I took the time to understand a company or stock. Sure, you may have left money on the table but you knew why you made the investment if you waited. Oftentimes, I skipped investments too because I simply waitied a while and saw that the reason I initially wanted to invest was misinformed. Saved a ton of money this way.
8. Mail: seriously, the old kind! You can't imagine how many times I put things in an envelope and let them sit to ultimately tear them open and replace something, add something or throw something out. I have a rule of never sending anything important out immediately, unless it's absolutely essential. (Sidenote: screwed this up last week and the wife's pissed....an envelope that should of sat a day longer!)
9. Phone calls: I don't answer them most of the time. If it's important someone will send an email/iMessage/SMS/FB Mail/SkypeMessage/TwitterDM and you save the time on the phone. See how many options there are for patient communication where you have time to think about your response? Skip the phone calls and don't jump at every ring of the device. Now there is always a time and place for phone calls and if I see who it is that is calling me, I will usually answer the phone. But I learned over the years that nothing is so urgent that it has to be done in real-time.
10. Purchases: most things can wait to be bought and you already know this. How often I waited to buy something and then simply skipped it because it wasn't necessary or I found a cheaper alternative. The urge to be "first" when buying something or having to have the newest thing never really helped much in life. Just wait it out and see whether you want tomorrow what you could have today.
11. Payments: you should never pay early. Yes, get your bills paid on time and so forth but why would you ever pay early? I was notorios for wanting to get things done and this included paying bills. Ridiculous....let the money sit on your account instead of theirs.
Most of this is common sense but I wish someone had sat me down in my teens or early twenties and explained to me a bunch of things where I should always employ patience. It seems so easy to see but I didn't when I was younger and it took me a long time to internalize the need for patience. I'm still not the best at it and I know a couple of zen masters of patience who I strive to emulate. At the same time, I've made it a point to think about this when decision-making and it helps to be reminded.