Impatience is a virtue

By Chris Helm

Chris is fascinated by how people and businesses connect their aspirations together to create mutual benefit.

Yes that's right. It's time to throw off the shackles and embrace some of that inner frustration. If you want to get anything done that is...

When sat enjoying a burger lunch after a hard morning’s work in London, Jamie and I couldn’t help noticing a sign that seemed to fly in the face of a commonly held viewpoint. Patience is often seen as something virtuous that leads to great rewards. That’s regularly illustrated by the case of multi-billionaire investors like Warren Buffett, who is feted for his long-term and patient approach to investing.

Impatience on the other hand is regularly frowned upon and seen as something to be avoided or controlled. But how often do we see changes and innovations happening in the business world without someone taking the reins and driving things along? Without impatience, would Henry Ford have invented the motor car or Mark Zuckerberg have created Facebook?

Agreed, some things take a long time but let’s not kid ourselves; if we sit back and simply wait patiently they’ll take even longer, or worse still, never happen. In business, real change only ever happens because someone is prepared to stand up and make it happen, not because they wait. If you wait your competitors get there first – and if the competition get there first, they get the spoils and you go out of business.

Impatience doesn’t just get a bad rap, it gets a really bad one. The internet is full of stories about the bad things that happen when you are impatient. You simply have to look at an online thesaurus and impatience is synonymous with rudeness. But we think it’s time someone stood up for poor old impatience. After all, it’s often borne out of some really positive intentions – to change, to grow and to get people to a better place. In fact, impatience is often proof that you are passionate about a personal or shared goal. Now what’s wrong with that?

When we started Catseye, we had a real desire to grow something special. Working in a consulting business where people are the main assets, we were all schooled and skilled at being incredibly patient and nurturing. And this is how we were, with our staff, our clients and each other. In fact, moments of impatience often came across as frustration or conflict and were avoided. But we were equally frustrated by the slow pace of change so when we changed the way we viewed and talked about impatience, we were amazed by the results. By explaining that our drive and sense of urgency was borne out of a desire to get everyone to a better place, we strengthened our shared sense of commitment and became better at holding each other to account, giving all of us more room to be supportive and tolerant.

So why not give it a try? Throw off the negative tag of impatience and give yourself permission to be passionate.


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