The two things needed to become more patient are present in every organization. As you can tell by the title of this post, the gift of people and resistance is the focus and how each of these help to grow one’s patience.
If you are like me, perhaps the time your impatience is most noticeable is when you are on the road and in a hurry to get somewhere. Naturally, these are the times when other people are on the road also and every stop light turns red. People and resistance remind us of our impatience. So, the next time this happens to you take a deep breath, and grow in patience.
Easier said than done, right?
To be sure, not all impatience is bad. For example, impatience around social justice is healthy. Similarly, improving the speed we have access to information can help both people and organizations make better decisions. There are many more examples of healthy impatience.
But, in the context of leadership, there is wisdom in patience. This is so because leadership is always about relating to other human beings. Leaders who are intentionally patient with people, while strategically impatient with change in their organizations, are the ones worth following.
In relating to other people, leaders worth following strive to be the kind of people who accept diverse viewpoints. Other people naturally have different views, values, and even political beliefs (oh my!). Learning to listen to them, understand them, and value them, is a key element of leadership. Patience is the key that opens the door to it.
Similarly, every new idea a leader has is bound to face resistance. This is so because other people have, as I just mentioned, different ideas, values, and beliefs. Again, this is a good thing because it forces a leader to think differently about the ideas they have. This process also requires patience since impatience plows forward without any consideration. It barges through the door, rather than taking the time to properly open it. When this happens, a leader tramples others rather than leading them.
Occasionally, when I am processing my day with Sarah, usually as she is cooking dinner, I will say something incredibly foolish about how frequently I was interrupted that day by people. Sarah then looks at me with a smile and asks, “isn’t that your job?”
She is right …… like almost all the time.
I share this because my worst moments as a leader are the ones when I am so bogged down by processes and to-do lists, that I am impatient with others. The same can be said when I hold so tightly to my ideas that I disregard the resistance of others. Conversely, I am at my best when I make time for others and hear their ideas. Often, their resistance to my idea helps me make the idea better than it was when it was just mine.
People, and resistance, will grow your patience. The next time you notice them in your life, I challenge you to slow down, lean in, and grow in patience.
You will become a better person and a better leader in the process.