Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

Patience Takes Practice

A woman walked into the grocery store with a three-year-old girl in the seat of her shopping cart.  As they passed the cookie section, the little girl asked for cookies, and her mother said no.  

The little girl began to whine and fuss.  The mother said quietly, “Now, Monica, we just have half of the aisles left to go through; don’t be upset.  It won’t be long.”

Soon they came to the candy aisle, and the little girl began to beg for candy. When her mother said she couldn’t have any, the little girl began to cry.  The mother said, “There, there, Monica – only two more aisles to go, and then we’ll be checking out.”

When they got to the checkout, the little girl threw a loud tantrum.  The mother patiently said, “Monica, we’ll be through this checkout lane in five minutes, and then you can go home and have a nice nap.”

A man followed them out to the parking lot and said to the woman.  “I couldn’t help noticing how patient you were with little Monica.”

The mother laughed.  “My little girl’s name is Tammy.  I’m Monica.”

The world today is testing everyone’s patience.  And we have never needed it more.

Patience is an invaluable virtue, but it takes some work.  We live in a world where we are used to getting things quickly, be it information or products.  We want everything now – instant gratification.  This impatient attitude can cause a lot of harm – unproductive time, stress, poor decisions and more. 

Patience and impatience are also habits.  Studies show that it takes 21 days to create or to break a habit.  Good habits are as addictive as bad habits and a lot more rewarding.  I would like to suggest that when you change your impatience habit, you will change your life.  Patience requires self-control.  It doesn’t help to complain or whine or stomp your feet like children.  It’s not easy to be patient all the time.  It requires practice.  Start by waiting in line – and we are waiting in a lot of lines these days – or wait in traffic.  It is better to be patient on the road than a patient in the hospital.  Take control of your emotions in small situations.

Have realistic expectations.  This can pertain to projects and people.  A common weakness is wanting others to be better than you are willing to be yourself.  If you have unrealistic expectations, your stress and anxiety can increase.

Rejection is a part of life.  You can’t avoid it, and you must learn not to take it personally.  Move on and prepare for the next challenge.

Analyze every failure, but never wallow in one.  I always want to know why people say no, and I’m not afraid to ask.  How helpful it is to have a second opinion about where you went off the rails.  Think about what you could have done differently. 

Remember past achievements.  Look back to your past successes.  How did you feel?  This will help ease the rejection of today, and help you recognize that you can get past the current disappointment.  How long did you have to work for those earlier accomplishments?

Finally, take a break when you feel yourself losing patience.  If you’re feeling down, do something you like – exercise, read a motivational book, listen to a favorite song.  Just don’t stay away too long. 

A young man came to a jeweler’s shop and said he wanted to study to become a gemologist.  The young man insisted that he had the patience to learn everything the jeweler was willing to teach him.  Reluctantly, the jeweler told him to return the next day for his first lesson.

When the man arrived the next day, the jeweler placed a jade stone in his hand.  For four hours the young man held the stone while the jeweler did his work.

The next day the jeweler had the young man hold the same stone.  And every day after that, for over a week.

Finally one morning the young man asked, “Sir, when am I going to learn something?”

“Soon,” said the jeweler, passing him the stone.

The young man was about to give up, but as he took the stone in his hand he felt surprised.  “Why are you giving me a different stone today?”

The jeweler smiled and said, “You have begun to learn.”

Mackay’s Moral:  The future belongs to the person who knows how to wait.

About the Author Harvey Mackay, Founder & CEO

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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