– So what you’re saying is that you’re going to do nothing? – asked my coach
– You just said that the strategies you’ve been using are ineffective
– Well not ineffective, I said they didn’t bring results so far… – “Oh, be quiet Joanna” – I’m thinking in my head – She’s right. What you’ve been doing is getting you nowhere.
– Doing nothing? How do you do that? – I asked
– You’re still trying to “do” it – she laughed – I’m saying no action. Just waiting patiently. Is that the way forward?
– I don’t know. Waiting for what?
– The results that you want
– Doing nothing…? Oh boy, what an idea! What does patience even look like?
First thought – patience means being passive, giving up control, giving up… It’s a concept that’s so different from my usual approach that I don’t even know how to allow for it. No action? Am I asking myself to not be me? In my world there are solutions, strategies and there is progress. And I like it my way. Results as soon as possible. And now… I’m asked to do it differently? I’ve heard that if you realise you’ve always done something a particular way, you know it’s time to change. Extreme change in my case.
Patience is not my strategy of choice. It has to be said. Patience is not appreciated and it’s not considered as a virtue any more. Who has the time to be patient? We’ve created the world of immediate access, information, decisions and gratification. We can’t and we don’t know how to wait any more. It’s unthinkable. Patience became redundant in the world of fast (and sometimes furious!) Every minute is precious, why wait? But what if I can’t have all the answers right now and I have to carry on not knowing? Ok, since I have no alternatives…
I don’t even know where to begin. Is patience a skill? Can I learn it? Maybe I can get coached on it?
And I realise that in that moment I’m back in my solutions driven head. Quiet! Let’s feel what patience feels like and experience what’s in a moment of silence. I’m giving in. Not because I understand it clearly but because I can’t question the effectiveness of something I don’t know.
Patience can be linked to an emotional intelligence competency – impulse control. In simple terms it’s an ability to think before we act and not rush into the execution stage. For me patience is a response that’s possible only if I maintain a high level of self-awareness. This way I can stop, catch myself before I react and take time to find the best option to move forward.
Patience is different than mindfulness and stillness. Patience for me means understanding the purpose of waiting and the necessity of the wait. It’s more than just silence. It’s an ability to pause which is underpinned by wisdom. Inaction in it is only apparent. Patience leads to results which wouldn’t be the same without self-control. Patience gives space for effective thinking and consideration without rush or hurry. Patience also means trusting that even though it’s not obvious immediately, what’s due to happen, will happen at just the right moment. Time spent waiting patiently is not wasted. Patience means for me staying active without being reactive.
May the force be with you
This all happened 3 weeks ago and I’ve learnt a lot since then. There is more to patience then doing nothing. This May we say “May the force be with you” so my force of choice for this month is patience. Out of personal choice, I’m spending May outside of my comfort zone, on the edge of chaos, exploring. Truly and honestly having no solutions and being ok with it. Allowing for time to show me the right path, present the right information or playing with an idea that I am leaving my options open. What a challenge!
I want to reintroduce patience as the forgotten human quality, emotion and also a state of mind that no longer seems to have place in our reality today. I see patience as value that if honoured every day, can significantly improve our personal effectiveness, ability to solve problems and the overall quality of our relationships both in personal and professional life. I want to see patience as a value of a professional coach. One that creates a space for a client to pause, take a deep breathe, think, feel safe and listened to and seek answers in silence and in their own pace. Only my patience as a coach can make room for an experience like that for my client.
I’ve decided that every month from now on, I will focus and understand a different emotion, personality trait or virtue that can, not only support me in becoming a better person but also help me improve my work as a coach.
What should I focus on in June?
Any ideas? Because right now… my options are open.
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