Does the virtue of patience still exist in our society anymore?

When you’re on Safari in South Africa, you want and expect to see the big charismatic images (1)animals, especially big cats like lions and leopards.Unlike Africa’s other iconic spotted cat, the leopard prefers a well-timed ambush to a speedy chase. And the sit-and-wait strategy plays out perfectly for this lurking predator in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

Imagine having to wait hours! A leopard’s ability to be composed during a hunt is impressive. The lead-up to the final ambush can take the entire night!

Leopards stalk with steady precision, slowly pacing with paws down so as to not make any sound. Then, when the time is perfect, they propel fiercely forward and nab their prey.  In a world where we get impatient because logging into our PCs takes a whopping 6 seconds, we could probably learn to not let it get to us so much.

Knowing it can outrun a buck, it still waits for a vulnerable and injured animal so it will have a higher probability of being successful with its catch.

Leopards will often hoist prey in trees as a means of avoiding other predators from stealing it.  Owing to the incredibly arboreal nature of leopards, they function very effectively on the ground as well as in trees.

What about us? Does the virtue of patience still exist in our society, or in your company, or are you looking for a quick fix? To have patience means to be calm, to have self-control and to be able to tolerate delay. In our ‘thirty-different-directions-at-once’ society, patience have been replaced with impatience and speed is the new master.

The problem with patience is it isn’t a static definition (despite the dictionary telling you to quietly and steadily persevere as you wait for more details). It always changes relative to what you are working against. If you try to force patience to be at some standard pace, you will fail most of the time. If you decide to learn patience in a vacuum, on your own, you ignore paying attention to what’s around you. You will always be out of sync and feel impatient.

People think patience is the goal; it isn’t, rather it’s a style and tool in how we connect to the world around us. People think to be patient is letting the world catch up to you. But being patient is allowing yourself to catch up to the world, and at times you do need to move quickly to keep up.

Learning how to pause is an important part of being patient. Pausing is not the same thing as waiting and Patience has nothing to do with waiting. Learn all about pacing: timing yourself to work with more than one process around you. Since the world around is shifting, changing and everyone is different: patience requires flexibility and timing. At times to go slowly to let everything come together, at times to move along with surety and allowing everything to catch up with you.

Hurrying through life at a blurred speed destroys not only our social connections but  too often, our effectiveness. In addition sometimes we move at such a dizzying pace that we shoot past some very good opportunities. Living life and business at such dangerous speeds means we have no real time to look, observe, think and then act, like the leopard, at exactly the right time. Granted the thought of slowing down in such a frenetic world is not always that easy to manage but slowing down does not mean giving up or giving in. Rather slowing down is all about harnessing the power of patience in choosing the right time to strike – and when we act we certainly act quickly, if the leopard did not move quickly when it needed to it would not eat! If we do not move quickly when we believe that the right opportunity has presented itself we will not ‘catch’ the opportunity and reap the benefits of our patience.

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