The Role Of Patience In The Process

I love having a goal (or mission/task/assignment) to focus on that I am passionate about. At the beginning of the process I am energetic and highly motivated.  Focus on the objective comes easy. Allocating resources such as my time and energy are justified in my mind and like a greyhound at a race, I am singularly focused and running on all cylinders. However, given enough time (and usually it is a relatively short amount of time for my traditionally impatient self), if I don’t see adequate progress being made, my energy towards the goal will start to wane. I can easily become discouraged, frustrated, and unfocused. Before long, what I once was passionate about will be perceived by my mind as impossible or out of reach, and I will struggle to allocate the necessary resources to continue moving towards the goal. The source of that passion loss is generally rooted in impatience.

Patience is basically the ability to persist amid delays or lack of progress without letting those delays bother you. The second portion of that definition is the key. We can all persist through delays for a time, but after a while those delays can become bothersome at best and painful at worst. That’s when impatience will set in and bring with it emotions such as discouragement, frustration, doubt, fear, and even anger. I bet that if I were to ask a group of people what emotion or feeling first comes up for them when I mention the word “patience”, many (maybe most) would offer a below-the-line emotion. The truth is patience can be hard under normal, worldly circumstances. Patience is, however, critical to the process we are going through and the goals we work toward.

Patience is a teacher. Its lesson usually involves helping us learn to let the little things go so we can remain focused on the big picture. For example, if I wanted to take a vacation road trip to go fly fishing in Montana, the thought of standing in the Yellowstone River with the gentle sound of moving water and the beautiful scenery all around me generates a sense of excitement. However, there is 1,500 miles between me and that destination. I can’t simply snap my fingers and transport myself there. I will need to endure almost 24 hours of driving and the inevitable delays that will pop up along the way. If I let every driver that cuts me off, every accident that adds 30 minutes to the drive, and every stop to get gas frustrate me, that 24 hour drive is going to seem like an eternity. What’s worse, if I suffer too many of those challenges early in the process and allow them to drive my emotions negatively, my desire to finish the journey can start to fade and what I once was passionate about now can seem like it isn’t worth the trouble.

The bottom line is that patience helps us learn to joyfully persevere when progress isn’t going as quickly as we would like it to. It can seem hard at the time, but when we allow patience to finish its work in us, each subsequent time we are faced with a situation where we might become impatient, it will become more and more natural to let the little things go and remain focused on and energetic towards what we are aiming for.