How to Cultivate Patience: The Key to Achieving Professional Mastery
An experienced sailor needs to cultivate patience in order to safely reach his or her destination. They learn the things within their control, such as the set of the sails. And the things outside their control, such as the wind! It’s part art, part science, but only those with patience stick with it! As we sail through our life, cultivating patience is key to getting to our destination of professional mastery.
This brings to mind the story of Nadia. This 60-year-old coach came to see me because she was unhappy with her professional life. She described her career as average. She’s passionate about learning and, over the years, she’s become a Jill-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none. As we spoke, I began to see a pattern emerging that revealed the cause of her discontent – she had not worked to cultivate patience.
Here’s how I knew this…
After attempting to launch a few ideas, she would easily get distracted, because they didn’t take off as quickly as she expected. Over time, she became discouraged, disgruntled and bitter. She had been a coach for over 30 years and felt that she had a lot to offer but always felt rejected. I could sense that, in order to stay away from the pain, she had rationalized that she had been misunderstood.
What was evident to me, but not to her, was that she tried to rush the process of developing a fully integrated professional identity. After years in the field, her sense of self as a professional was still scattered and inconsistent. She ended up launching things that were not fully cooked, sending a mixed message to her audience. The outcome was inevitable failure and instead of going back and fully developing her idea, she would move on to the next thing.
It was really painful to witness her hurt, despair and confusion. Her heart was in the right place but her eagerness to be “of service” got in the way of her developing full mastery — developing a professional identity that she could translate into a powerful brand. She oscillated between low self-worth and feeling unappreciated and resentful. She had not made the connection between her actions and her outcome. Fortunately, Nadia decided to face the pain and make the necessary changes.
I encounter this often. Professionals rush the process of mastery because they’re afraid of losing time and missing opportunities. The inevitable setbacks defeat them. The result is that people carry the weight of disappointment and lose trust in themselves and others.
It’s poor judgment to think patience will come to you without consistent and persistent effort. A practice of mindfulness is vital to see what triggers your impatience and what you have to do to become more patient. It is a process that takes time and self-awareness.
Mastering your life and your business takes hard work, because transformative change requires you to be patient with yourself as you change your thoughts, limiting beliefs, behavior, environment, and systems for doing things. That’s a lot!
Take that negative energy of disappointment and redirect it towards positive steps you can take that will actually move you forward to your goal. Here are 10 ways to cultivate patience with yourself, your circumstances and others…
1. Cultivate patience by refusing to chase after each new Shiny Object!
3. Cultivate patience by being committed to something meaningful.
4. Cultivate patience by holding to your ethics and values, refusing to take shortcuts.
5. Cultivate patience by developing self-leadership, making well-thought-out decisions.
6. Cultivate patience by being more empathetic and compassionate as you look at everything from a Big Picture view.
7. Cultivate patience by letting go of the need to be first and to control as you permit others to experience life for themselves — developing at their own pace.
8. Cultivate patience by being flexible in your schedule and be welcoming of the value others bring.
9. Cultivate patience by thinking about the consequence before you act.
10. Cultivate patience by focusing on the process, rather than the results.
For me personally, this last tip is the most important technique for learning patience. See the value of enjoying what you’re doing in the moment, instead of focusing of what it might get you. Usually the gifts are great, when you appreciate each moment of learning. Celebrate each milestone along the journey. Being good at anything takes time. Look at the artists and other professionals who develop their crafts over a lifetime. Brian Adams summarized this nicely,
“Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement, and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.”
Patience is a key component in self-leadership. I’m hosting a half-day self-leadership course, designed to help you visualize and plan for profound personal and professional growth in 2021, whether that’s mastering patience or another aspect of growth. We’ve been through some storms this year, and the future may still feel unclear, but you can still reach your destination when you learn how to set your sails! Contact me to learn more about “Setting Sail for 2021” on Tuesday, December 29th via Zoom or visit my Facebook page for more details. Don’t delay, space is limited to 10.