by | Mar 18, 2024 | Personal Growth

“Patience is not passive, on the contrary, it is concentrated strength.”
Bruce Lee

I love fishing and it has traditionally tested my patience. My bobber sits on the surface and there is no action below the water. Come on fish, I do not have all day!

The cause of impatience is unmet expectations.

My favorite patience definition is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. Delay, trouble, and suffering are our constant partners in our professional and personal lives – how we respond to these difficulties is what defines us.

A great example is tardiness. “I am running late” – a common message we hear from someone we are waiting for. Our patience often begins well, “no problem,” and sometimes quickly turns to frustration. We stare at our phone, or watch, and a delay of a few minutes can seem like hours.

Running late defies our expectation of being on time. How late are you? Should we reschedule? Are you OK? All these thoughts enter our mind as we evaluate how to respond.

The perception our time is being wasted can drive us crazy.

We expect excellence from our employees, co-workers, the barista at the coffee shop, or the call center representative. Experience teaches us our elevated expectations will not always be met. Excellence, not perfection, is what we should expect.

Excellence is a journey requiring patience.

On the other hand, too much patience can be costly. A decision made too late can result in a missed opportunity, often the result of too much analysis. This lack of urgency projects indecision, and others around you can lose confidence in your ability to lead. You need to be patient yet deliver results.

The U.S. Navy SEALs have a way they execute through patience – “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” These rapid-response special forces teams are both methodical and patient. They have learned over 60 years of operating in crisis situations that working at a slow and smooth pace reduces mistakes and, in the end, speeds up the mission.

My experience is the rest of us can learn from the Navy Seals. Our work may not entail saving lives in dangerous situations, yet we are expected to effectively accomplish our mission. Unlike our special forces – our approach can be ready, fire, aim. We need a process where our patience leads to the best decision – to be smooth and fast.
What is your patience profile? Complete the five-question quiz below to increase your self-awareness.

What’s Testing Your Patience? (

I was not surprised to learn the quiz identified me as primarily a Zen Master, versus a Balanced Responder or Quick Reactor. Improving my active listening will be helpful to build my patience.

Three keys to becoming a more patient leader:

Situational Awareness

Safety is a fitting example of the importance of situational awareness. Scanning the environment to determine reality and what to do next. Patience in dealing with others requires the same discipline. To think through the situation at hand, what expectations were made, and carefully responding when your expectations are not being met.

Status Checks

Three famous letters that can promote patience in working with others – ETA. In a world where so much is in progress and not complete, we owe others a status check. When will you arrive? What date will the project be accomplished. Status checks respond to the IOU you have made – a commitment that needs a response not silence.

Impatience Recovery

When you are guilty of responding poorly through impatience, recover the relationship through humility. Apologize for your behavior and partner redefine expectations. Losing your patience is recoverable in a relationship.

Like fishing with a bobber, we do not always know what is going on behind the scenes and that can cause us to be impatient. Resist the impulsive, negative reaction to delays – leaders are expected to patiently think through challenges. As Bruce Lee says, patience is concentrated strength – use it wisely.

Read to Lead

Leaders benefit from being active readers, long reads not just social media posts and news feeds. A deep read builds concentration, strengthens your intellectual capacity, and offers wisdom you can share. As you refresh or build your reading habit, diversify your experience – old, new, fiction, non-fiction, audio, hard cover, and e readers.

My March 2024 favorites:

The Wager by David Grann

From the author of Killers of the Flower Moon, a story of shipwreck, survival, and savagery, culminating in a court martial that reveals a shocking truth. The Wager was a British ship who sailed in 1740 from England around Cape Horn in South America is search of a ship carrying gold and valuable treasures. Their mission was challenged by terrible weather, high seas, and devastating illness which resulted in mutiny of command and starvation. I expected the few survivors of this daunting journey to be heroes – I am not sure they really were.

The Hunter by Tana French

This thriller based in Ireland is the sequel to Tana French’s novel The Searcher. The novel features a retired Chicago police officer who moves to Ireland looking for peace and a new lease on life, only to realize that his previous occupation returns as he observes challenges in his new village. He mentors a teenage girl who comes from a dysfunctional family, and he gets involved in the case searching for who murdered her older brother. There is also a get rich quick scheme underway that is too good to be true. A story filled with lessons of town politics, family drama, and the bravery of doing the right thing.