Weekly Gems from Ronda Gates.
While waiting for a delayed flight last week I watched a young girl passing the time playing solitaire. Another passenger, watching her, asked, "What are you playing?" "Patience," she answered in a decidedly English accent.
The British use the word Patience to describe the card game that we Americans call Solitaire.
My mind, rarely willing to let a provoking thought pass me by, slipped into musing about the inter-change-ability of these two words. For example, we can be alone, or solitary, without exhibiting patience, and we can experience patience without being alone. That's no deep thought but it took me to another level-an attempt to understand, as I was required to experience patience and the solitude of traveling alone, what assets they afforded me (the option to pass the time playing cards with myself, notwithstanding).
Learning patience has been one of the hardest lessons of my life. Now I am aware it is one of the great challenges for the people I work with or coach. Eager to understand everything-especially the issues that trigger behaviors that yield unsatisfactory results we demand to immediately understand or be understood. Instead of being willing to "count to ten" and/or peacefully sit back and wait for the still small inner voice that often has the answer we need, we seek immediate gratification. This sets the stage for self-defeating behaviors that provide an immediate payoff for which there is a latent price.
There is a small spider that has built a web in the window of my office. For three days I have been watching this perfectly formed creature patiently wait to ambush an insect that may blunder into its web. Perhaps there is a lesson here. The spider's patience assumes a blunder by another. The spider's patience assumes that all will go according to some grand plan.
One of my great teachers urged me to learn patience at a time when I seemed to experience one dilemma after another. "Wait three days," she would say, knowing in her own wise way that the solution that seemed so right to me in the moment would be tempered by three days when several solutions would present themselves and the best one would be easier to see and implement. The lesson was hard won but has proven to be right. Confidence that the right outcome will show itself has come with my willingness to trust that patience is often the best course of action. I can look back at the times when impatience triggered words or actions I later regretted.
As I watched the few passengers on that delayed flight who ranted and raved at the airline representative over a situation no one could change, I realized, with pleasure, that I didn't have an anxious bone in my body. Learning patience has spilled over into many areas of my life. Setbacks and reversals are nothing more than temporary annoyances. Successes are the natural course of a remodeled life tempered with peace, contentment, and satisfaction that all will unfold according to plan. Like my spider, I am willing to wait.
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