In my move to New York, I approach work with zealous urgency. The group I was joining had potential to do more. The opportunity was here. The timing was now. Everything needed to be pulled and pushed. Sacrifices should be expected, freely given in my opinion, so that the collective could win.
In a review of our progress a few months in, my boss made an observation. “Early in my career everything was about now. I thought in terms of days, maybe weeks. I pushed hard. I relentlessly pursued the goal. I see things differently now. I think in terms of quarters and years, sometimes even decades. One has to be patient and enduring if one wants to win, really win.”
The remark etched itself in my mind. I thought it was odd, coming from someone I considered to be young and in his prime. At the time I wondered if I wondered if it was a statement made with the benefit of time or simply explaining the time it took to get something done. It has been more than two decades since I first heard that remark. It resurfaces unbidden at times when I think zealous urgency is the only answer. Is patience a viable alternative?
As I reflect on the progress anticipated and realized more recently, I find myself coming back to the observation with a twist. I think patience is a tool we (I) often ignore. It seems too easy. My natural starting premise is to push, pull, and pursue the goal. I am not suggesting that the goal is abandoned. I have come to see that freedom and choice are powerful forces that one must work with. Letting good ideas work, giving truth the space to act, requires time and the willingness to be patience. There are models where others have tried this and it works. David’s observation is one; “All their evil schemes, the plots they cook up, have fizzled – every one.” (Psalm 21.11)
As I look at today’s toolbox, I see compassion, mercy, and patience – all viable choices.