The Path to Develop Patience in Business and Life

From my many years of experience in business, I have found that the key to a more peaceful and successful career and personal life, is developing patience.

All of us get caught up in the mindset of measuring the success of the day based upon the amount of fires we have been able to put out. We jump from one thing to the next all day long.

Whenever we do this, we don't realize what this attitude does to the quality of our work, and the negative effects this behavior has on our mind and body.

With just speed and jumping from one thing to another, our brain simply reacts to visual stimulus and doesn't have time to focus, analyze, reflect and ponder things.

Unfortunately this situation often isn't a choice for many employees who find themselves dragged into this way of functioning by the top management.

The problem that many organizations face is that, carried away by this mindset of pushing people to do more, non stop, 24/7, they are unaware of the negative implications of the approach. On the contrary, management may imagine this as a way of attaining good performance and efficiency increase. But is this sustainable?

This thought process could be adequate if a reduction in resources is paired with a rationalization and refocus of the company priorities and tasks.

In most cases this is not the rationale behind the plan that in reality is based on less people having to deal with incremental tasks.

This creates a contradiction in many companies where you will find that the top management speaks about the team's daily priorities, all while forgetting that even the word "priority" means to focus and execute with accuracy one task at the time.

An additional issue with all this is the erroneous belief that by being involved in multiple tasks day in and day out, management will have a better control of the overall performances.

In truth, this way of doing things is the opposite of delivering value.

The outcome of a constant increase of the workload, produces a higher amount of pressure and tension amongst people, and creates a lot of suffering in the organization.

Eventually tension becomes anger, stimulated by a self-centered focus as individuals try to prove they can do more and better than their peers.

How can we help ourselves and our teams transform this negative attitude into something positive for the business environment and its employees' performance?

As mentioned in the beginning of the article, the answer is in the development of patience.

The dictionary defines patience as the capacity, habit or fact of being patient. In practical terms, the ability to be able to remain calm, and not become annoyed or bothered, when waiting for a long time, dealing with problems or difficult people.

In Mahayana Tibetan Buddhism patience relates to the desire of an individual to live a peaceful life, and help others to achieve the same.

The biggest enemy of patience is anger, which is caused by a shortsighted view of this life, where many people believe that happiness is strictly related to the acquisition of fame, power, and are driven by a "you lose I win" culture.

What drives this negative and unrealistic stream of thoughts is a self-centered culture hijacked by an uncontrolled mind.

The first and most important step to change behavior and reduce the amount of suffering is to learn how to, in Buddhist terms, tame your mind.

Without the need of going in depth into the Buddhist spiritual practice, my first recommendation is to start changing the way we think and do things little by little.

An exercise that produces immediate benefits, is that of removing from our thoughts the concept that we are in business to kill our enemy, while focusing on the fact that we are all human beings in search for happiness.

Every time a sense of anger and anxiety emerges, we can concentrate on our breath flow, accepting that it all is right. Just spend a few minutes refraining from overthinking, letting go of that crazy stream of scattered thoughts and the fear of failing to perform and be able to do enough.

Then, with a calmer mind, review your tasks, and understand just what the priority, the action, is that would benefit the business, yourself and the team in that very moment.

Life is not a race. If it were, it would mean that we are all racing quickly to the end of our existence. Do you want to win that race? I don't think so, so what's the hurry? We just get carried away continuously by this kind of irrational behavior just following the pressure that comes from the top to do more we will just suffer and be of no value to the organization.

This world needs to take several steps back and learn how to truly develop a kind of patience that is based on simple values such as compassion and loving-kindness. This is what is in the depths of every human being's heart.

As a business leader I always experience the positive effect of teaching patience to my team. Whenever there is a problem, and I call for a meeting, I start my conversation asking how people are feeling, how I can help, and most importantly, I always reinforce the idea that we will find a solution by working together.

People need to feel they are not alone and that they don't have to fear the situation.

Allowing some time for the team to reflect, focus, understand the circumstances, allows us to be more productive, with less stress, and add more value for the business and the people around us.

This is how patience can directly contribute to the creation of value in business and life.