How can I be patient when I am not a patient person?

In my last blog post, I said: Innovators need to be prepared to be outsiders for a long while.  Patience is required to educate others, and time and effort are needed to influence mindsets that are accustomed to different processes and measures. 

A reader emailed me and asked how can I be patient when I am not a patient person.

There is no single answer for why your impatience will be triggered.  Reasons are as unique to you as fingerprints are to each individual.  With a bit of detective work, however, you can determine the irritants or intolerances that trigger your impatience.

You are a manager with high expectations of yourself, and you are proud of your track record of commitment.  One of your team members has missed an important commitment and explained why by giving what you think is an excuse.  Your annoyance is obvious by your tone of voice and your response, but you noticed your manager wasn’t as annoyed when you shared the story with her.

Was the reason for missing the commitment reasonable or unreasonable?
Was it your standards or the business’s standards that the employee didn’t meet? At what point in the conversation did your tone of voice indicate your disapproval? What triggered your reaction? Was it personal or positional?

Once you answer such questions, you can develop a strategy that works for being more patient in a wider array of circumstances. Taming a tendency is a combination of the following actions:
* naming it
* determining why it is an issue for you
* identifying alternate behaviors to replace your default ones
* forming a mindset that allows you to experiment the next time you are triggered

Unlearning a habit is not easy and can cause discomfort. Desirable new habits can be extinguished by an overwhelming urge to relapse into old, familiar ways of doing things. It is critical for you to identify the reactionary internal process that you revert to by default. Doing what’s familiar to you is easy, but this blocks you from influencing outcomes more effectively.

Your mind talk holds essential clues for identifying what you need to change. If you know what to do, why don’t you do it?  If you don’t know what to do, how can you learn?

So share with us, what triggers your impatience and why?


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