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The Sneaky Seven of Discouragement and Defeat: Impatience

Management Corner – Part 6

Annette Reissfelder, a Professional Accredited Coach active in Prague and Hamburg, shares her musings on management, innovation and beliefs in this series first published in BUSINESSWOMAN this summer.

This article first appeared in “BusinessWoman” in November 2013.

Myth No. 3 is “Things are not going fast enough.”

Impatience is a lot like frustration (where you already know what to do but aren’t get­ting the results yet) but has a sharper edge: Not only are you frustrated that things aren't working, you are perhaps a little angry that they aren't working. You may think of your boss who will surely expect results by now. And this makes you do stupid things. You follow-up with someone with an impatient tone in your voice: "Why the hell can't you get back to me and do what we agreed?" When we're impatient, we feel that people owe us something, or that they should respond faster and differently. It's not much fun to do business with impatient people. They are fighting against what is - courtesy of today’s instant gratification culture. Here is another thing each of us has to keep in check.

As I already mentioned, one version of ambition, confusion and impatience often comes in the disguise of perfectionism – your impatience with your own efforts, and those of others, constantly drives you forward. Most people realize that perfectionism is the road to being overwhelmed. But they are often less aware that is also a false friend for your career: while perfectionism can indeed drama­ti­cally speed up somebody’s first career moves (i.e. at expert level), it will then grind their careers to a screeching halt, and often also make these people miserable. This might sound like a harsh judgment, but think about it: perfectionists are immune to the message that, in an opaque world, perfection is an expensive delusion. If everything you do has to be perfect, you will overly rely on what has worked in the past, which makes you nervous around complexity, and risk-averse in your decisions. Plus you’re prone to look for theory where theories can’t help. If you are interested to learn more, I highly recommend “Black Swan” by erudite-statistician and writer Nicholas Nassim Taleb. This book is also avai­lable in Czech; btw it’s completely unrelated to the young ballet dancer’s story of the same name.

To get past impatience you need to realize that you're not entitled. The world owes you nothing, and neither do your colleagues or potential clients. You need to find time to be still, to be calm, to meditate. I'm actually not joking. Impatience is a very agitated state of mind. You're not only impatient, you're impatient that you're impatient! Take walks in parks or forests and contemplate how long those trees took to grow. Rediscover an instrument you used to play; or listen to some renaissance music – not as a continuous “background noise”, like the radio, but one piece at the time, to prepare your mind for silence. After all, this is precisely what it was written for! Try Josquin des Prezor Palestrina(video here)  or Monteverdi, or chamber music of any period, and see for yourself. Cultivating patience is much more powerful than impatience. It's facing reality just as it is. It’s worth noting that you can only truly focus if you have cultivated patience…

In the next article, I’ll look at Disappointment, and inspirational role models.  

Management Corner – Part 1 Why Good Girls could be losing out in the workplace now
Management Corner – Part 2 The New Management Ideal
Management Corner – Part 3 Beliefs Trump Facts: An Introduction
Management Corner – Part 4 Personal Myths: Beliefs That Might Be Holding You Back
Management Corner – Part 5 The Sneaky Seven of Discouragement and Defeat: Confusion

About the author:
 Annette ( studied economics and holds a master degree in psychology. She started her coaching training in 1998 while she ran a management consultancy for manufacturing companies. Today her clients are business owners and senior managers who want to actively shape an important personal or professional change project. In her work, she combines the roles of consultant, strategic thinking partner and psychologist. She is multilingual and works in German, Czech and English.   

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