Patience is one of the more difficult challenges of being human
The whole world is waiting for a coronavirus vaccine so that life can get back to normal. It feels like all of us are characters in Waiting for Godot. But unlike Samuel Beckett’s play, where the protagonists are waiting for something that probably will never happen, we can expect that a cure will be found. Until that time, much patience will be needed.
The pandemic has made us realise that patience is one of the more difficult challenges of being human. In more ways than one, the coronavirus has dramatically transformed our lives – and not necessarily for the better. For many of us, “cabin fever” has raised its ugly head, contributing to various mental health problems. Some of us may even have been quite sick, had a brush with death or had someone close to us die. It has been difficult to remain calm, cool and collected.
In our world of overnight delivery, fast food and overall instant gratification, many of us don’t even give ourselves the time to read a novel. Instead, we prefer to read short articles or watch YouTube clips. When our needs aren’t met immediately, we become frustrated.
Stress elevates our cortisol levels and triggers our flight or fight response. Impatience can transform leaders into agitated, poor decision makers. It can harm our reputation, damage our relationships and escalate already difficult situations. In sum, impatience is a root cause of much unhappiness in the world today.
Three types of patience
By contrast, what is patience? It is the ability to stay calm in the face of disappointment, adversity or distress. Having patience allows us to better process challenging situations. It helps us sort out our thoughts and bring our feelings under control. Patience reduces the risk of angry outbursts. It helps us not to resort to snap judgments, improving the quality of our decisions. Patient leaders have better relationships with their colleagues, friends and family.
Social psychologists differentiate between three kinds of patience. There is “interpersonal patience,” referring to the ability to face annoying people with equanimity. There is “life hardship patience,” which is the patience to overcome serious setbacks in life that are more of a long-term nature (like waiting for the outcome of a medical treatment or a possible job promotion). Finally, “daily hassles patience” refers to how we deal with trivial things, like getting stuck in traffic or facing long queues at the supermarket.
For those of us who weren’t born with patience, the good news is that patience can be learned. Some, without realising it, have already had the opportunity to practice their patience by becoming parents. Whatever the case may be, here are nine ways to exercise your patience muscle to improve your life and decision-making abilities.
Discover your patience triggers
Your triggers could be specific people, situations or even certain words. Look for physical indicators suggesting that something has set you off, such as fast breathing, muscle tension and hand clenching. A sudden mood change can be another indicator. Recognising your impatience triggers is the first step before you can move on to some of the practices mentioned below.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic:
INSEAD Knowledge, 2020Read more
Good leadership requires self-aware and vulnerable leaders
The coronavirus crisis facilitates the rise of autocratic and narcissistic leaders just when we least need them.
When asked what the post-Covid world might look like, French author Michel Houellebecq said, “The same – only worse.” While the quip is funny on the surface, there is indeed reason for all of us to wonder where the world is headed.
Published on 29 Jul, 2020
"How to manage brilliant but tumultuous leaders"
Thrill-seeking employees' addiction to risk can create havoc in the workplace. Managed correctly, their fearlessness can be a great advantage to any organisation.
Published on 7 Jul, 2016
Five key lessons for entrepreneurs and leadership
As an organisation, the Virgin Group has been of great interest to the public and business experts worldwide, especially given Richard Branson’s creative leadership style in running and growing the enterprise. We dive into Professor Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries and Robert Dick’s case titled, “Branson’s Virgin: The Coming of Age of a Counter-Cultural Enterprise,” and explore five key lessons for entrepreneurs and leadership.
Published on 28 Jul, 2020
Virtual team coaching can help turn around dysfunctional teams
Effective organisations rely on teamwork, not least because it facilitates problem solving. Many leaders, however, are ambivalent about teams. They fear overt and covert conflict, uneven participation, tunnel vision, lack of accountability and indifference to the interests of the organisation as a whole. Also, more than a few have no idea how to put together well functioning teams. Their fear of delegating – losing control – reinforces the stereotype of the heroic leader who handles it all.
Published on 26 Aug, 2020
Published on 26 Mar, 2008
Published on 24 Sep, 2010
Organisations have a responsibility towards their staff.
Published on 1 Oct, 2020
"Adversity to develop endurance, courage and character"
In the perfect storm our world is currently experiencing, we need to develop leaders with character, people who can deal with complex and difficult situations and act as forces for good. Adversity is one way to develop endurance, courage and character. Without it, we do not really know what we are all about, nor do we appreciate the limits of our character.
Published on 9 Jun, 2017
"Talented leadership in the European Union"
This article explores the complex network of relationships requires extremely talented leadership in the European Union.
Published on 1 Aug, 2005
"When drive and commitment are too much"
Published on 21 Mar, 2016