Have you noticed how impatient the world is? From the typical bumper-riding motorist who can’t wait to pass the car going 75 miles per hour in the passing lane to the grocery shopper whose groceries spill over yours while you are still bagging them in the automatic checkout lane, we live in a fast-paced world where impatience prompts a lack of civility, edginess and rude behavior.
However, in some instances, impatience may provide a motivating edge for the entrepreneur. The persistent requirement to innovate in order to be successful mandates some impatience with the way things are. Impatience may drive the execution of a plan, the final negotiation of a deal or the impetus to change a habit that is in the way of moving forward.
In contrast, entrepreneur Eric Ries, author of the recent book, The Lean Startup, recommends that a good dose of patience may be just what is needed for startup survival.
“Startups are in a life-or-death struggle to learn how to build a sustainable business before they run out of resources and die,” he writes. “However, focusing on speed alone would be destructive. To work, startups require built-in speed regulators that help teams find their optimal pace of work.” This pace is set by the entrepreneur, the person behind the startup.
As leaders of startups, we can be “edgy.” How do we know when to act on our impatience or when to exercise patience and slow things down? This is an art. It is intuitive and yet can be honed with practice and experience.
For example, when is it appropriate to take a big breath and pause before answering a question from a volatile partner or a troubled persistent employee? As a business owner, when is the appropriate time to pivot? When is the time to say that a new idea is not as promising as it seemed to be during idea formulation?
Pause at the end of your day twice a week to observe yourself and then quietly reflect on the following.
• What triggers my impatience?
• Who are the particular people with whom I am impatient? What am I missing when I don’t hear them completely?
• How does my impatience impact those around me?
• What are the issues in my business right now that require a pause and a good patient look? Where am I not having the required “impatience”?
Based upon what you might discover about yourself and your business from the reflection, consider an action.
Sharon Schmickley is chairperson of the Business and Computer Systems Division, and Betty Noble is associate chair director of the Center for Entrepreneurial and Business Excellence, both at Howard Community College. They can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.