I’ve introduced the idea of a Patient Organization as a model for businesses, but what exactly do I mean by Patience? I want to discuss my take on “Patience,” since it’s sometimes misunderstood. Dictionary definitions reference an ability to endure difficulties and to remain calm when faced with problems. The Collins English Dictionary offers “tolerant and even-tempered perseverance” as its first definition. Other words we associate with “Patience” include moxie, grit, guts, sturdiness, calmness, wisdom, focus, awareness, confidence, and thought.
Explaining what I don’t mean by “Patience” is perhaps the best starting point.
Patience does not mean slowness. It often requires slowing down in order to focus, reflect, and prioritize, but the Patient Organization has a methodology that actually allows for smarter responses faster. Patience has nothing to do with foot-dragging, procrastination, or putting off important decisions. Patience means having a system and a set of decision matrices in place to make it easier to strike when the time is right, at lightning speed if necessary.
Patience does not mean putting up with jerks. No business owner starts out dreaming of surrounding himself with jerks, but they have a way of creeping into organizations over time. Jerks force leaders to spend hours keeping people happy. Jerks rob organizations of time, energy, and Patience. Ultimately, they manifest as what I refer to as “organizational terrorists,” holding teammates hostage and destroying the culture owners once dreamed of. Jerks do not share the business’s core values and must go. Tolerating jerks is charity and insanity, not Patience.
Patience does not mean avoidance. Patience does not look for ways to go around things, it goes through them. Again, having a Patient system in place allows leaders to make the tough calls rather than avoiding them, to trek down a difficult path rather than take a shortcut to avoid pain.
Patience is not passivity. Patience is extremely active. It is about doing, but the doing is always accompanied by thinking. Often it is downright aggressive as it confronts a problem or seizes an opportunity. Indecision is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Patience. Inaction within a system is not Patience. Patience comes from rising above the system to actively improve it.