One of the things that used to drive me crazy about working in the corporate world was when people would tell me to “Be patient.”
I never wanted to be patient. Whether it was being patient for a promotion or a pay raise, or being patient with a stalled project, or being patient while waiting for someone else to make a decision about how soon/whether/when we could move forward with a new initiative, “being patient” just felt totally incompatible with my natural tendencies.
Sure, I always tried to be calm and respectful and polite, but deep down inside I was shouting “No!”
I suppose I am not a very patient person. When something needs to be done, I want it done now. I want new opportunities, better opportunities, bigger challenges, bigger paychecks, bigger audiences, more fun, more interesting work, and more of a chance to make a difference. More, better, faster, now! Give me the ball and let me run with it!
Does this make me a bad person? I don’t think so. The truth is that entrepreneurs are by nature impatient. We have a hunger for action. Sometimes this tendency is not entirely healthy, but it’s necessary if you want to succeed as a small business owner.
One of my favorite clients, restaurant consultant Aaron Allen, believes that for entrepreneurs, “impatience is a virtue.” He says that from his experience, people who achieve the biggest success in business tend to have a high sense of internal urgency (they even walk faster).
Of course, “being impatient” doesn’t mean you should be a jerk. You shouldn’t act like a mindless bulldozer who crushes anyone who gets in your way. You shouldn’t whine about the weather or the cancelled flight at the airport or other things that are beyond your control, and you still need to know how to work effectively with other people. You should always be patient with people’s feelings, with customers, with employees, and with people in your family. No matter how important your business goals may be, don’t let entrepreneurial impatience damage your relationships with the most important people in your business and your life.
Another point that Aaron Allen makes in his blog post is that “aimless impatience is counterproductive.” Being impatient doesn’t mean you constantly “shoot first and ask questions later.” Instead, the right way to be impatient is to focus your impatience on a specific goal. It’s not good enough just to be impatient, you also need to have a clear picture of where you’re heading and what you want to accomplish. But once you decide on a plan of action, you should get started immediately. Once you understand the first step that you need to take to reach your larger goals, you should want to take that step RIGHT AWAY.
One of the absolute greatest things about running a business is that you truly have the power, every day, to go after what you want. If you want to win a new customer or launch a new product or create a new partnership or introduce your business to an entirely new market, you can do it. Why wait? Why “be patient?” Instead, as an entrepreneur you just need to cultivate a sense of purposeful, focused impatience, and put that internal sense of urgency to work by creating momentum toward your most important goals.
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