Impatience, that familiar mix of slight excitement tinged with frustration. It creates an energy that has nowhere to go, and if you don’t learn to recognise it and manage it, it can be pretty damaging to your success.
It’s definitely my Achilles heel and it has led to several changes in direction for my business as, when things don’t work straight away, I have a tendency to want to move straight on to the next big idea. It's also led to blogs, web copy and Facebook posts being published with glaring typos even though I'm the worlds biggest spelling and grammar pedant - all because I'm too impatient to properly proof read things. For me, broadly, I think my impatience is driven by a need for recognition and results. I’m not very good at plugging away and sticking at things for the long term if I’m not 100% sure they’re going to work out. That’s one of the big differences in working for myself. When I worked for someone else, at the very least I knew that if I hit my objectives for the year, I would be both recognised and rewarded. It was still hugely frustrating at times but the frustrations came from other places. Factors out of my control would often get in my way but I never had that same sense of impatience and frustration that I get now.
I’ve always been impatient. It’s worked both for and against me. I think, looking back, that it’s the reason I was good at supply chain and customer service. I wanted to get things fixed quickly. I didn’t want to know about the barriers or the reasons why something couldn’t be done. I just wanted it done and I would work tirelessly to find a way. I think it’s also why I was able to build such good relationships with the likes of Tesco, Asda and Boots. Retail moves extremely quickly and all of the big retailers share a similar pace that forces them to be hugely impatient. I shared that impatience, and much to the resulting frustration of my operational colleagues, I became the impatient voice of the customer within the wider organisation.
As a coach it has also worked in my favour and to my detriment! The one big black mark I had against me in my final coaching assessments was a ‘flashing look of impatience’ during my observed coaching sessions. To reassure you, it was definitely not impatience with the client, but rather an impatience with myself for not understanding something straight away. For me though, to learn that it was there and to imagine how that could make a client feel, it’s something I’ve really had to work on over the years.
On the flip side, the vast majority of the time, it does work really well for my clients. I tend to find that when someone hires a coach for themselves it’s because they’ve ‘had enough’ and want someone to come along and help them accelerate more quickly through the issues they’re facing or towards their goals – it’s often both of these things and my personal style compliments that overall sentiment well. I can empathise with their impatience at wanting to get where they’re heading fast and I focus on identifying what’s getting in their way quickly and then help them build an action plan.
If any of this resonates with you, here are my top tips to managing your impatience:
Learn to recognise it and harness it
Impatience can lead you to do all sorts of silly things. When it comes to decision making specifically if you don’t recognise that it’s your impatience that’s driving your decision making process it can be very dangerous. For example, I am now on my fourth coach, having rushed into hiring three that were completely wrong for me because I rushed my decision based on that ‘need help NOW’ thinking. I didn’t do the research, went with my gut (because I was impatient) and didn’t think about what I really needed beyond the immediate. If you can, try and isolate exactly what it is that’s making you feel impatient. Try and think about it in relation to the bigger picture. Get things back into perspective. Set a date to make your decision by with a decent time window and then take steps to make sure it’s the right decision. Try and shift the energy that the impatience creates into working hard on making sure you get the best results.
Learn to manage it properly
Quite often we become so stressed by the impatient feelings we get that we stop doing all the good things that make us feel like that in the first place. Like writing pitch emails to potential new clients, publishing blogs or building strategic plans. We want to ‘get going’ and learn while we do but in doing that, we are often sabotaging our chances of success and compounding the issue further. Learning to be comfortable with the feelings of impatience will greatly increase your chances of getting the results you crave. Tell yourself that it’s a completely normal part of working towards success and get on with it. Try not to let it paralyse you or lead you to rush everything instead.
Set timelines and goals
Set yourself goals and timelines. If you’re starting something new, whether that’s a job, a project or a business relationship, it will take time to grow and bear fruit. Set yourself goals and milestones along the way. Check in against these goals to map your progress and set reasonable timelines by when you will judge success. Don’t let your feelings of impatience be the measure by which you judge yourself, you will never feel as though you’re succeeding!
Apply a growth mindset
When you’re trying to succeed at something, the last thing you want to do is think about how much you’re learning along the way. A growth mindset is about so much more than that though and if you’re working towards something, it can be hugely freeing to think of things in terms of a growth mindset. The mostly helpful growth mindset thinking you can apply if you’re feeling impatient is the word YET. Impatience can force you to want to throw in the towel and be very black and white about things – thinking I CAN’T DO THIS, I’ll never be able to do it. Instead try and be a bit kinder to yourself and tell that impatient voice in your head, ‘I just can’t do this YET’.
If you’ve had the patience to read to the end, then well done! I hope these tips help, it’s certainly helped me to think about all the tools I have in my box that can help me to feel better about feeling impatient! If you're new to the blog and would like to receive weekly updates then click on the link below to sign up...