Healthy Impatience

If patience is a virtue and we’re living and working at breakneck speed, do we have to give up our virtue in the name of profitability? The surprising answer is probably not. If you and your employees have a healthy impatience, you will refuse to remain stuck because when people put their ego aside and don’t have to be the one with the answers, they can reach out for help and get unstuck quickly. And it creates results – in fact, American Express is just one company rating its managers on healthy impatience.

And the focus isn’t solely on impatience. It’s also on healthfulness.

Unhealthy Impatience vs. Healthy Impatience

Just like me, you’re probably all too familiar with the feeling of unhealthy impatience: the panic, mind-racing, the pressure-based decisions and overreacting. We lose our mindfulness and get caught up in the chaos of now, now, now! A client told me today of a political leader who was the target of a back-channel attack. What did the politician do in response? He used the bully pulpit of his office to make a full denial of the false attack, which most people were unaware of in the first place. His overreaction gave his attacker a free bullhorn and credence to the attack. If only he would have shown healthy impatience and taken the bold move to go slowly and possibly not react at all.

Healthy impatience takes time for slowing down, thought and reflection. If you don’t have these tools, you’ll be moving too fast to realize how or why you or your organization is stuck – if you can even identify it’s stuck in the first place! Since being stuck is often a motivation for people to choose coaching, I actually think of healthy impatience as one of its foundations. Committing to coaching guarantees you space and time amidst the urgency of the day-to-day – you’re creating a safe haven for your own clarity and vision. Your coach holds this haven and provides a mirror for reflection as well as offering tools to build your own skills for alignment and leadership. Remember that healthy impatience is not about having all the answers. It’s about a commitment to getting unstuck, into forward momentum and calling on key resources to do just that!