Patience is absolutely fundamental to becoming a resilient leader, don’t you think?


Think about it.  So far in this Resilient Leadership series, we have looked at mental toughness, focus and gaining perspective.  Which of these skills can you master without having patience?

Would you like the short answer?  None.


Patience and Resilience

Becoming more resilient requires you to put in the hard yards.  There are no shortcuts or easy ways to become mentally tougher, more focused or gaining perspective.  Of course, there are tips I can give you to get started in these areas, as I do in my blog posts, but to really develop these skills requires time, effort and perseverance.  In other words, you need patience for each of these skills.


When you look at it this way, patience is absolutely critical to fully develop each of the many skills I plan to write about in this series.  I have planned to cover 24 skills in this series (so, much more to come on this).  If patience is necessary for each of these skills, then it may be fair to say that patience makes up at least half of your ability to become more resilient.


Patience: Why Some People Struggle to Develop Resilience

When we listen to the people around us talking about resilience, what words and phrases do we hear most often?  We hear about pushing harder, doing more, pushing your limits, gritting your teeth, squeezing more in and bouncing back.  If truth be told, these phrases don’t really mean that much.


That aside, the one word we don’t hear nearly often enough is ‘patience’.


To put this into some perspective would help here.  Just last night I was watching a panel debate on TV about a specific sporting organisation that has decided to make all games under its control non-competitive until children reach 12 years of age.  It was an interesting debate from the point of view of the link between patience and resilience.


The former president of the sporting organisation was a member of the panel and it was during his tenure that this decision was made.  He spoke about the removal of a ‘win-lose’ scenario as vital to children first learning the skills of the game and to keep children playing sport for as long as possible.  Supported by many in the audience, including parents and a psychologist, he spoke about skill development, relationship building, praise, creating stand-out memories, and positive efficacy and the value of time and patience to achieve these benefits.


Those who opposed the strategy talked about how competitive sport at a young age builds resilience and prepares children for the ups and downs of life.  They also suggested that the experience of languishing on the substitutes bench, a common experience for too many children when competition is introduced too early because they can’t be trusted to help win the game, will also be a resilience and character-building experience.  This belies the problem.  This shows a total lack of patience from a group of people who can not wait to see the victories, trophies and medals and the stars of tomorrow.  They simply do not see the value in patiently building skills, learning the game, and forming strategies to deal with specific situations and opponents.


This is why some people struggle to develop resilience.  Patience is hugely important.  Patience is very difficult.


Developing Patience

You will already know from this article so far that you need to develop patience if you want to build resilience.  Patience underpins all the skills you need to be a resilient leader.  You can implement all the other skills as skilfully as you wish but, ultimately, your ability to be resilient will mainly depend on your ability to be patient.


So, what can you do to get the ball rolling on developing your ability to be patient?  In this article, I am happy to give you some tips to get started.  But please remember that patience and time are both required, funnily enough.  There is no short cut to this.


  1. Learn to look past futility

No matter how patient you become, you must be aware that there will always be people, situations and demands that severely test your patience.  It will often feel that your patience is a futile exercise but, rest assured, it is not.


The patient mind will recognise that this is where maturity, understanding, knowledge, and respect comes from.  To put it simply, there are things in life that simply can not be rushed.  Some things can’t be done, achieved or learned at speed.  These are usually the more important things in life.


To be resilient, you must be patient.  To be patient, you must learn to look past the immediate sense of futility.


  1. Practice acceptance

Acceptance is a core skill that I will write an article about later in this series.


For now though, you should learn to realise that sometimes there is simply nothing you can do to change a situation.  Impatience in these situations is just an energy and resilience sapping waste of time.


Learn to accept what you cannot change, face up to your limitations in the situation and identify what you need to grow, learn and develop.


  1. Learn to use time effectively

This is only partly about time management.  It also about observing and understanding how time passes and is used in your organisation.


Recently, we have all learned to become less patient and more demanding.  We know what we want and we usually want it now.


However, in our workplaces things don’t quite work like that.  Many of the timelines and deadlines we face aren’t as rigid as they first appear.  Quite often, our deadlines are the result of other people’s priorities or politicking in the workplace.  These are some of the pressures and demands encouraging us to be impatient.  To do things as quickly as possible.


Consider how time passes where you work and how your peers and colleagues use it.  Look at the tasks and projects you are working on and the timelines for each.  Apply the knowledge you gain from this and use it to plan your time and work effectively, knowing how to avoid impatience.


  1. Show gratitude

Patience is about delayed gratification.  Turn down the plaudits you might receive for getting something done quickly for the greater reward of knowing that you have mastered the task for the long term.  As I said earlier, learning how to be patient takes time.  Patience requires patience.


People who show gratitude cope better with delayed gratification.


Practice being grateful every day by writing down three things you are grateful for that day.


Next time, then, when you are under pressure and your patience is being tested, think about the things you are grateful for now at this stage in the project/task.  Also think about what you will be grateful for when you show patience and complete the task as you think it should be done.


What are you doing to develop patience and how is it benefitting your resilience?  Visit my Resilient Leadership Masterclasses to see how you might develop the skills needed to become more resilient.

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