Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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“We all have to learn how to be patient. What builds patience?

“All we need is just a little patience,” the song says. The only time we think about patience is when we are in situations where we can bring up how impatient we are, how impatient other people are, or how difficult situations lend themselves to people becoming irritable. As someone who travels a lot, I see many people quickly becoming impatient when faced with inconveniences and delays.

What causes us to become impatient? Why are many of us not more patient? Life is challenging. World events are uncertain. We could all be happier if we could be more patient – patient with ourselves, patient with inconveniences, and being patient with the people around us.

We all have to learn how to be patient. What builds patience?

Patience affects every sphere of life. When we are unable to be patient with the people around us, we are often equally impatient with ourselves.

Patience Is A Mindset

“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”Joyce Meyer

We all have goals. Unfortunately, we do not always attain them in the timelines we want.

Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay. It is the ability to wait for a particular outcome. You are patient when things do not go your way and you choose not to give up, but keep faith that all will work out just at the right time. To keep calm when things do not happen when you want them to is a skill that takes time to master.

Growth of any kind takes patience. You cannot expect to have the life you dream of overnight.

The rise of the underdog

Kurt Warner is a Pro Football Hall of Famer. With his performance in the NFL, one would never believe that he had to wait six years after graduating from college to play pro football. Many athletes are drafted at the collegiate level. That was not the story with Kurt. He always had to wait his turn, even in college, where he did not become the starting quarterback until his senior season. He tried out for the Green Bay Packers, but he got cut, forcing him to return home where he got a job as a packer at a local grocery store. His determination to play football got him playing for the Iowa Barnstormers, which he led to a few championships.

When he was due to try out for the Chicago Bears, he had an unfortunate incident with a spider. At 27, he was still nowhere in the NFL. It looked like his dream was dead but he remained patient. His determination saw him playing for the St Louis Rams, although they made him play in the European NFL first. After excelling there, he only got a spot as a third-string quarterback for the Rams. It would take him another year to play first string. A teammate’s injury gave him a chance. Warner became the Most Valuable Player of the NFL in his first season as a starter, breaking records and leading the Rams to victory. Warner won MVP again in 2001. All three of his Super Bowl performances are among the best in history. Had it not been for his patience, he would never have achieved all he did in the NFL.

Patience is a state of mind

Frustration is rooted in impatience. It is a feeling of rising stress that starts when you feel your needs are being ignored.

Some things we cannot control. We have all been stuck in traffic. Being stuck in traffic is annoying because you need to get where you are going, but you have little control over the cause of the delays.

Patience is about dealing with thoughts and emotions and controlling our reactions to unexpected delays. We cannot change the traffic, but we can control our reactions when things are not going according to plan.

Patience is a coping skill that allows us to deal with unforeseen obstacles. Patience allows our minds to take a step back from the pressure of achieving. It gives us a chance to regroup and re-strategize.

Patience can give us a different perceptive about delays and obstacles. Instead of hopelessness and defeat, it offers a chance for you to work and wait until the goal becomes a possibility again.

“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it open.” Arnold Glasow

A secret of patience that may be hard to come to terms with is the fact that to be patient, we need to practice patience. Understand that patience is a process that you need to get accustomed to and you cannot rush your way through it. Many of us are very hard on ourselves and because of how hard we work and the commitment we put into things; it is very hard to be patient. We expect quick results and we expect that everything that we put effort into bears positive results but sometimes what we get is lessons and that is when we need patience the most.

Being patient allows us to gather our thoughts and not act impulsively. It is the deciding factor of whether we allow circumstances to alter our state of mind and to continue working towards what we want. If we learn to be patient, we can see it here and now for the blessing that it is instead of living under a cloud of constantly worrying about the future. I came across a saying that states that ‘patience is the pause that helps us get our thoughts back in order and our feelings under control’. Use patience to help you make better decisions and it can be a lesson on self-control and persistence.

The secret with patience that should be the takeaway is that like everything else you need to work on it and it will not happen overnight. While it is not easy, patience can be learned but you need to be willing to do the work. Do not be quick to brand yourself as impatient as you will not give yourself a fair fighting chance. As the saying goes ‘patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting’, so keep the good attitude and give yourself time to learn how to be patient.


  1. Neville Chaney

    Very well said, Mary! Almost every time that I play golf there is someone frustrated that the pace of play is not as fast as they would like for it to be. After one particular round and several holes of my playing partner complaining, I finally asked him, “Bill, it’s a beautiful day and you are playing golf. What would you RATHER be doing right now?”

    • Mary Kelly

      A simple but great example, Neville. Thank you!

  2. Debbie Swanson

    It’s that lack of control thing. . . when in fact, I ultimately am in control of my state of mind. I live with my MIL who has Alzheimers. It is not easy. It’s frickin’ hilarious sometimes, but it isn’t easy. And I get so frustrated with her. But I can’t control her. Heck, SHE can’t control her. I’m still “practicing” patience around her melt-downs and ever so slowly getting better at it, but I loose it sometimes. I just remind myself multiple times a day I can only control my reactions. Easier said than done – practice is key.

    • Mary Kelly

      Thank you for sharing your story, Debbie! ‘Practice is key’… Yes I totally agree!


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