“Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There!–Why Patience IS a Virtue.”
A number of my friends are going through challenges right now. A very good friend of mine is getting married on Valentine’s Day and then starting chemotherapy for cancer two days later. Another friend is in dire financial straits with bleak job prospects (for now). Still another friend is going through job loss, having to care for 3 children and doing this without a partner for the first time in her life. Everything changes and evolves. Nothing stays the same for very long.
My friend with the unemployment problem has total faith that things will change, if he just keeps “putting one foot in front of the other”. I agree with him completely. He continues to search out employment opportunities online and through friends. On the days he’s frustrated, he calls me and we get together and either go for a walk, go to the gym and workout or just sit and talk at my apartment. He keeps his chin up and thinks in terms of gratitude for what he has as well as the fact that he knows things will change for the better. Some might say he’s looking through rose-colored glasses. Others would say that he’s in denial. He simply says he has faith in his own abilities and, in his case, God. Again, I agree with him. I’ve always been a proponent of the Zig Ziglar quote: “A positive attitude will get me a lot farther than a negative attitude.”
So, what to do when you’ve done everything you can do with a problem and it still continues to rear it’s ugly head, unsolved or unresolved? How about, “Don’t just do something, sit there!” Now, before all you peak performance people start e-mailing me, let me explain. I went through a period of long hours of marketing, networking and other business-building strategies in several of my businesses and was spinning my wheels with less-than-hoped-for results. What did I do? Stopped. Re-grouped. Took a day off. Did some contemplation. I was stuck and I knew it. I could have kept banging my head against the wall or I could step back, take a breather and get a new perspective.
I had to realize that I’m not Tony Robbins. Tony, in my opinion, is a peak performance machine. I admire Tony greatly and am in awe of what he has–and continues–to accomplish. He’s been a huge influence on me since a friend of mine gave me a copy of his bestseller, “Unlimited Power” in 1987. I’ve listened to dozens of his audio programs and love them all. His accomplishments are legendary. He continues to run several companies, coach some of the most successful people on the planet and still do dozens of multi-day seminars every year. In addition, he just wrote another best-selling book on investing. To say that Tony is an over-achiever would be a gross understatement. But there’s only one Tony and, again, I’m not him. I realize it and, in the words of Clint Eastwood in one of his movies (the exact one escapes me at the moment): “A man’s got to know his limitations”.
Now, I’m the last one to argue for my limitations. But I know that sometimes I can get on a roll with my work–in the wrong direction. I have a tendency to go 100 mph and then, If I’m spinning my wheels, I keep going. In my case, a nice break gives me distance, perspective and clarity on the problem at hand. I have always loved Albert Einstein’s quote, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” In my case, I need to stop whatever I’m working on and do something completely unrelated to the work or do nothing at all. Sort of a pattern interrupt. This usually gives me a different perspective.
Patience is definitely a virtue and one I happen to be lacking in a lot of the time. But when I use it as a creative “tool” to slow down and get unstuck from a problem or line of thinking, it almost always pays off for me. When I step back for a bit, I’m refreshed to tackle my tasks with a new vision or perspective. What are you stuck on today that a little patience and distance would cure?