I used to think of patience as a passive thing, something like raw intelligence, that you either were born with or you weren’t. I thought that someone was a patient person just as I thought he was tall or short. Patience just was. You either had patience or you didn’t.
With time and age has come experience and insight, and I now realize that patience can be learned, that I am capable of becoming much more patient (oh boy, more responsibility for my actions and the resulting consequences!).
Amazingly enough, just the realization that I had control, much more than I realized, and that I could achieve even more, resulted in a major increase in my patience. I started paying attention to what set me off, started anticipating, thus preventing. I came up with alternatives in advance, escape routes and pre-problem solutions. I worked out conversational scripts (internal and external) to steer me away from hot spots and critical issues. I became self aware enough to talk things out before they blew, to see the challenge developing and put out the sparks before they became a wildfire in my mind.
About 6 o’clock one recent Saturday morning I went downstairs and did a few reps on a Nautlius machine. The longer I live, the more important it is for me to add weight training to my routine physical activity, which currently is mainly aerobic. (Can we say racquetball? Love the game! Play 4 to 5 times a week.)
I did not push any memorable amount of iron, but I know that whatever I did that morning, I was capable of doing at least 50% more within a few months IF I decided to go for it, to set and follow a regular program of weight lifting.
I also know that if I choose not to continue that program, after a while I would revert to where I am now. Oh, there would be some residual benefit, but nothing like what would be gained by a regular maintenance level of weight training.
Your mind is no different. Your mind, your emotions, can be trained, focused, and directed. You are capable of feats of discipline, motivation, enthusiasm, patience, love, friendship, and achievement that would astound you, your friends, and co-workers.
I realized a long time ago that every company had its own unique culture. I wanted to have a special company, where people enjoyed working, and treated each other with respect and dignity, where excellence and above-average commitment and dedication were the norm. I knew that such a culture did not happen by accident but I wasn’t quite sure how to go about creating it. I had no blueprint, I’d never been fortunate enough to work in such a place. I had a vision, but only the vaguest idea of how to make it happen.
I am an avid reader, I devour books by the dozen. Books on business, psychology, occasionally history books, self-help books. They all helped, but nothing totally clicked.
Then one day, back in 1991, my fiancee put down the phone after a troubled call with her mother and walked across the living room muttering to herself, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”