GrasshopperNotes.com - Thoughts for inspired living


March 3, 2010

The Art of Waiting

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:42 am

Call me impatient, but I don’t like to wait.

I could easily blame it on my years in the military where the notion of “hurry up and wait” gained notoriety, but upon further inspection this dislike was alive and well before then.

I’m sure some of it is hard wired but most of our impatience seems to be nurtured.

Men are more impatient than women – just sayin’.

Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the area of answering questions. We men have been conditioned by our cultural forces to have an instant answer. It may not be the correct answer, mind you, but we’re sure as hell going to give it to you fast.

Women are certainly catching up, but men have been cultivated into the role of decision maker. We are expected to make decisions everyday and we don’t disappoint, we decide. We are expected to solve problems, and the quicker the better.

The hardest thing for most men to learn is the art of waiting.

There is an old management axiom that underscores the wisdom of patience. It basically says, “Some problems will solve themselves, if you just wait.”

“Grabbing the bull by the horns” is certainly a popular strategy, but applied too often can produce results that can be rather gory. Reminds me of a story . . .

Years ago, I really wanted to fire a guy in the worst way. He had just browbeaten another employee and was acting like a bully. I needed my boss’ approval to let this guy go, so I entered my boss’ office in a huff. I explained what I wanted to do and why. He listened very carefully and asked me a simple question: “Can this wait until tomorrow?”

The answer, of course, was “Yes.”

As it turns out, when I arrived at work the next day, I had two voice mails – one from the browbeater and one from the browbeaten. The essence of the messages was that apologies had been issued and fences had been mended, all without me having to decide.

There is wisdom in waiting – not fence sitting – but waiting.

The wisdom is to wait for the appropriate answer to surface. There will be a number of conditioned answers that come to the top of your mind. Sometimes they work, but oftentimes they gum up the works. You already know from experience what a pre-fabricated answer will get you. If you recognize it as a conditioned response and just let it pass by, you have just discovered the art of waiting.

When you condition yourself to let all the familiar answers parade by, you are perfecting the art of waiting. You may very well select one of those common answers after waiting, but more often than not, you will expose yourself to something new coming from you.

The art of waiting is heavily dependent on trust. You must trust that there is a part of you capable of coming up with a useful answer, if you just wait.

This is not about stalling. That’s a do nothing strategy whose goal is to do nothing.

The art of waiting is reconditioning your mind to allow yourself the opportunity to find an answer you would have never arrived at had you, too quickly and automatically, picked one of your familiar choices.

The conundrum is the art of waiting takes patience. The effort is totally worth it. Here’s a rhyme worth remembering:

Rather than take the familiar bait
Decide to wait and change your fate.

All the best,

John

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