Patience is powerful. It can help us persevere, reduce stress, and overcome challenges.
Patience may be a virtue, but it’s something I often find challenging. How about you?
Given the pace, uncertainty, and intensity of life and work these days, I don’t think I’m alone in the struggle to be patient.
But why can it be so difficult to be patient? How can we be more patient with ourselves and those around us…at work and in life?
We live in an intense, fast-paced world. Everything is about speed, scale, and execution.
Slowing down has never been a strength for me in my life. I’ve always found it difficult to let things be and trust the process.
However, this is actually what patience is all about - allowing things to be as they are and trusting that things will unfold as they are meant to.
It’s hard to do this in the best of circumstances, but over the last few years, it’s been even more challenging. One thing that can make patience specifically tricky is the fear that things won't work out.
While taking deliberate action and being proactive are essential, finding balance is also important.
In my life, I’m often on the side of action and focus, which can, unfortunately, turn into control.
As the saying goes, “Slow and steady wins the race.” But, many of us collectively struggle to be patient and trust the process. Being patient is challenging for many of us - but there are real benefits to it regarding our wellbeing and success.
How to Embrace the Power of Patience
Here are some things we can do to be more patient…
Trust the process, trust yourself, and trust life.
The psychological concept of basic trust is the belief that the world is safe - that we can trust life and the people around us.
Having basic trust can be challenging depending on your life experiences and the things you've been through, as well as who you are, where you come from, and what you look like.
But being able to trust life, the process, and the people around you, can help you overcome challenges and the need to be vigilant.
2. Slow Down
Why are we moving so fast?
Slowing down is more of a mindset, energy, and perspective. Sometimes patience is a process of allowing things to happen at their own pace and to be as they are.
The opposite of patience is forcing, speeding, and rushing through things. If we can slow down, we can create more space that allows us to be more patient.
3. Allow Things to Unfold
There is real power in pausing, even if for an extra second or two. Take a pause. Let things breathe. Allow things to flow. Trust that things are manifesting and unfolding as they’re meant to…give them enough space to do so.
4. Let Go of Control
Life is like rowing a boat. Many of us are rowing our boats upstream and wondering why we’re not moving. Sometimes instead of fighting to row harder against the current, we can simply just let go of the oars.
This is all about allowing things to happen and going with the flow. What if we just let the current of the water take us?
Doing this requires trust, slowing down, being patient, and trusting the process. Sometimes in life, we try to control things instead of letting them be. We have the ability to go with the flow and trust that we will eventually get where we need to go.
5. Remember That Whatever You’re Going Through Will Pass
Things have a way of working themselves out.
We all go through struggles. Bad, painful, and challenging things happen to everyone in the world. But each of us have made it through 100% of the challenges we’ve ever faced up to this point in life. If we’re still here, nothing has taken us out completely up to this point - even things we thought would.
Try this exercise: when you’re going through something challenging, it can be helpful to list some of the most difficult things you’ve been through in your life. This can help remind us that we've been through a lot, overcome a lot, and learned a lot. You may have thought that you weren't going to get through some of the things on the list - but you did. And usually, those are the most important lessons in our lives.
Remember: this too shall pass.
When facing a difficult challenge, ask yourself the following questions:
What good is here that I can't see?
How might I be able to benefit from this?
Why is this happening for me?
These mindsets and approaches can help us be more patient when things aren’t going the way we want them to and they allow us to tap into the power of patience more broadly.
Where can you practice the power of patience in your life right now? Where do you see yourself being impatient? How can you bring more patience into your life? Feel free to leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
Mike Robbins is the author of five books, including his latest, We’re All in This Together: Creating a Team Culture of High Performance, Trust, and Belonging. He’s a thought leader and sought-after speaker whose clients include Google, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Schwab, eBay, Genentech, the Oakland A’s, and many others.