To be ‘Faster, faster, faster’ seems to be the mantra today. We have fast cars, fast trains, faster communication means, fast food, fast friendships, fast marriages and fast divorces too! It’s the age of instant gratification and instant karma! We want quick results. The major part of the world that is living in big cities seems to have forgotten what ‘slow and steady’ means. Why is it so?
A study by Lance Armstrong Foundation, an organization that aims to improve the lives of people affected by cancer suggests that this is due to deeply ingrained beliefs in people who are, in today’s world, experiencing mass hysteria due to acute shortage of patience and high expectations from themselves and their surroundings. If we closely examine the belief system of people today, we find they have a similar pattern of thinking. Such as-
- I should be able to do this faster and better than what I can.
- I have so much to accomplish I’ll never be able to do it all.
- I wanted this to be done yesterday.
- I would rather get a job now than go through four years of college. That way I can make more money in my lifetime.
- If I can change and grow, you should be equally changing and growing.
- I am trying to change, but you keep on falling back into your old habits; that must mean you aren’t trying as hard as I am.
What is the end result? Dissatisfaction, anxiety & anger, when things don’t happen according to our accord or estimation, and it’s most likely that things do not happen as per our expectation! Such dissatisfaction, anxiety and anger spreads its effect quickly and create an environment of stress and negativity. When you are a leader and in a hurry, you also run the risk of burning yourself out in the pursuit of your goal.
Stephen Covey, the renowned leadership guru admits to have crammed his way through undergraduate school thinking he was really clever. He had learned to psych out the system, to figure out what the teacher wanted. He wanted the grade and did not want hard work to hamper his lifestyle. But he quickly learnt his lesson and paid the price in his graduate work. It was a different league altogether. He spent the first three months cramming here too but ended up in the hospital with ulcerated colitis. Then he spent years trying to compensate for the foolishness of getting himself into a value system that was not tied to principles at all. Stephan says that in the long term, there are no short cuts or quick fixes, only your principles of patience come to your rescue. He has beautifully captured it in his book Law of the Farm. The Law of the Farm says that you have to abide by certain principles if you want to reap the best harvest. The farmer must prepare the ground, put in the seed, cultivate, weed, water, and nurture growth. He cannot rush the natural growing cycle. A good crop takes the right soil, good timing, disciplined action and above all the invisible hand of God.
Likewise, the farm of our lives (whether in a business or in a marriage) too operate on natural laws; there are no easy short cuts or magic formulas. We have to prepare the ground, invest seeds of patience, de-weed, water, nurture growth and above all regard the hand of God, i.e, His Supreme Will without which, it is said in the Bhagavad Gita, not even a blade of grass can move. It’s important to note that natural laws, based upon principles, operate regardless of our awareness of them or our obedience to them. If you are a business leader, especially you need to have long term focus, patience and perseverance.
Let’s examine what patience is. It is defined as a display of tolerance, compassion, understanding and acceptance when something or someone is slow. Radhanath Swami says patience is imperative quality of a great leader and he defines patience simply as a positive way to deal with negativity.
How to root out impatience?
Only when we root out impatience can we start cultivating patience within us. The real root of impatience is the erroneous belief that we are the masters of our fates and we have everything under our control: that we can shape our destiny according to our desires. The truth is otherwise. It’s an illusion to think that we control very many of the factors that shape our lives. In the Vedic Scriptures, it is clearly explained that the Supreme Lord is the Supreme Controller and everything moves under his supervision. Although we have a tendency to lord it over nature, we should know that we have no power to control any single factor of our life leave alone the power to shape our destiny. The moment we realize and accept this fact, we can steadily root out impatience.
Benefits of cultivating patience:
Patient attitude gets you out of the instantaneous gratification model of thinking:
Look at the history of business leaders and you will find that no great achievement was ever created instantaneously by anybody at anytime. Great achievement is always a function of patience. Impatience often makes us do rash things and engage in poor decisions because we didn’t take the time to gather the correct information and resources. So, even as the entire world around you believes in the instant gratification model, you will develop a confident edge over others by your patient attitude and determination.
Having patience makes you aware of your surroundings and allows for breakthroughs to occur:
Impatience is directly correlated with narrow-mindedness and gets the mind to focus in on the negative side of things. If you’re patient, you become open minded and you see all the positive opportunities all around you.
Cultivating patience makes you see everything in the big picture:
Patience gives you the ability to place everything along your journey in the big picture. You see the lessons that you learn and you become aware of how they can help you. In other words, you leverage every experience along the way and maximize its use. Because you see things in the big picture, you anticipate roadblocks instead of being surprised by them, which makes them easier to deal with. When you become impatient, you think short term and quit and totally miss that moment where everything clicks together.
Patience + perseverance = Success
Radhanath Swami rightly notes that with no proper training, our patience can lead us to be lazy. So, we have to develop the quality of perseverance as well. He is quick to add that if we focus only on perseverance, our determination can make us restless to achieve the results. If we are drifting to restlessness in our determined endeavor, we need to practice patience and if our patience tends to make us lazy, we need to remember the virtue of perseverance. We need to add-in the missing element in us and strike a balance. How can we balance both patience and perseverance? Radhanath Swami reveals his magic formula for success- the Triple ‘P’ formula- patience, perseverance and most importantly prayer as the key to strike a balance between the earlier two ‘P’s. A culture of prayer helps us tap the power of conscience within and gives us the discrimination to balance patience and determination. Prayers also give the leader the necessary confidence to not get bogged down when expected results don’t happen.Google+